Jadeja steps out of the shadows in tremendous style

Jadeja steps out of the shadows in tremendous style

Cricket: India-Sri Lanka one-day series: Young all-rounder grabs the moment

Jadeja steps out of the shadows in tremendous style

Wise head: Ravindra Jadeja, who walked away with the man of the match award in Cuttack, has come to establish himself as a key member of the Indian one-day team . AFP

On a day when there were quite a few noteworthy batting shows, it was heartening to see Ravindra Jadeja the bowler hog all the limelight. The terms of the first two matches of this five-match one-day series between India and Sri Lanka had been dictated by the batsmen, helped in no small measure by the benign nature of pitches.

So, it was a refreshing change to see the bowlers call the shots in the third one-dayer at the Barabati stadium, though the first 20 odd overs of the match gave little indication of what was to follow.

Looking primed to set India a target in excess of 300, Lanka lost wickets in a heap to finish at a sub-250 total that the hosts achieved with great ease in the end, a multitude of players coming to the forefront.

Be it Tendulkar’s unbeaten 96, Virender Sehwag’s blistering 44 at the top of the tree, Harbhajan Singh’s miserly spell or Ishant Sharma’s two successive wickets in the middle overs that pegged the Lankan innings back; none was more impressive than Jadeja’s four-wicket haul, which rightly earned the all-rounder his first man of the match award in his 12th one-day international.

Stand-in skipper Sehwag may have broken the Kumar Sangakkara-Upul Tharanga association which was assuming alarming proportions, but it was Jadeja’s blows at regular intervals that kept Lanka pinned to the ground.

The pitch did have something for the slow bowlers to exploit, but it was far from being spiteful. On Monday, though, Jadeja proved quite a handful for the visiting batsmen, bowling with great heart and bringing in clever variations to flummox the Sri Lankans.

He first saw the back of an impressive Tharanga with one that twirled back into the batsman, and then forced Chamara Kapugedera to play on to the stumps.

He sent a straighter one to trap a predictable Nuwan Kulasekara in front before cleaning up Ajantha Mendis. En route to his four for 32, Jadeja notched up his best one-day figures, eclipsing his previous best of three for 24 against Australia in Nagpur this October.

All praise

Needless to say, Sehwag was all praise for his bowler. “He was magnificent today. When he came on to bowl, the Lankans were scoring freely. He not only checked the runs, but also took four wickets. As a captain, I couldn’t have asked for more from him,” he gushed.

The signs of Jadeja coming to the party were evident when he put up a strong show in the inaugural Indian Premier League for eventual champions Rajasthan Royals, and in the Ranji Trophy in 2008-09.

Along with Mumbai's Dhawal Kulkarni, he was the leading wicket-taker, with 42 wickets, and a tally of 739 runs at 67.18 helped him finish at the sixth position on the run-scorers' list.

Those performances were enough to earn the 21-year-old a place in the Indian squad for the Sri Lanka one-day series this January. Since then, the youngster has been a part of India’s set-up in the shorter version and had been able to keep his head above the water with sporadic good shows, but the obvious potential kept him going. Things could be vastly different from now on, what with the potential gradually being realised.