Mahendra Singh Dhoni has a particular liking for boys from the hinterland. Or could it be a mere coincidence that most of the players he has backed come from small towns; whether it’s Suresh Raina, RP Singh and Praveen Kumar from Uttar Pradesh or Ravindra Jadeja from the unfashionable Rajkot?
Long billed as the potential all-rounder material, Jadeja in the past has failed live up to expectations, often finding himself in and out of the Indian team. However, following his two triple tons in this Ranji season, the Saurashtra player appears to have found another wind to resurrect his international career.
His Test debut, in Nagpur against England, was average but in the subsequent one-dayers, first against Pakistan and now against the Englishmen, the 24-year-old has found his batting range and bowling rhythm.
With changed one-day rules, where five fielders have to be inside the 30-yard circle, relying on part-timers would have been a risky gamble. Jadeja, with his useful batting and effective batting, has provided that balance to the Indian team in the 50-over version. “He is definitely someone who is giving us that balance,” noted Dhoni.
“We have been struggling with a seamer all-rounder. Before the new rules we used to rely on Yuvraj (Singh) and a few other part-timers to get rid of those ten overs, but now Yuvi will need a bit more time to settle down, to read the game better and know what he needs to do to get away.
In that way Jadeja is the perfect person to have and he can bat a bit. What we have seen now is glimpses of someone who can really take on the bowler. He is a good prospect just that we need to keep faith in him. He will have a few bad games at the same time, but overall he will get better.”
After narrowly missing the man of the match award in the Delhi game against Pakistan, Jadeja turned in a stellar all-round performance against England in Kochi to fashion India’s win. And in the third ODI in Ranchi, he stifled the English batsmen with three wickets.
“Bowling wise he is quite settled,” Dhoni felt. “It is the batting department that he needs to work on. He is an excellent fielder at the same time. We are working on his batting. The more games he plays the better he will get. Personally, I have rated him very highly. At the international level what happens, you know, you need to score runs and take wickets.
“As an individual, most of us before playing for India know we are good cricketers, but it’s the amount of runs you score at the top level that gives you the confidence. You see the way he batted in the last game, he has got a lot of confidence out of it,” Dhoni reasoned.