Till 2007, the name ‘Jadeja’ in India would identify with a man with true all round ability, a prince, who debuted during a world cup match in Australia, who went berserk on Waqar Younis in the next world cup quarter final in one of the most anticipated sporting encounter of that decade, who was one of the greatest ODI finisher for India in late 90s, who is holder of a bowling world record, who also flirted with a young Bipasa Basu in a Close up ad and starred against Celina Jaitley in ‘Khel’ after his cricketing career was over due to his alleged involvement in match fixing during early 2000.It changed somewhat post 2008. I still remember, I was in my office and going through cricinfo pages in a lazy evening when I came to know the just announced Indian team for the U-19 cricket world cup in Malaysia. And it was kind of fun to find a team with super ambitious names like Napoleon Einstein, a Bengali wicketkeeper in Sreevats Goswami, a MS Dhoni look-alike in Saurabh Tiwari and a captain called Virat. Among all these I could have missed Ravindra Jadeja, but then I suddenly noticed his birth date and became an instant fan! 6th December, 1988! The year was not important but here’s this guy who is playing for India, even if U-19, whom if I wish ‘Happy Birthday’ then he should reply back with ‘Thanks and same to you!’
So, I obviously decided to follow this guys performance in the tournament and he was kind of star. With his slow left arm spin he did bamboozle a lot of those English, kiwi and South African kids and was quite tight with his economy rate.
India won the tournament and with the first season of Indian Premier League around Jadeja was picked by Rajasthan Royals. And for rest of the season the story was quite magnificent. RR won the IPL; Jadeja was recognized by the Great Shane Warne as one of the most notable young talents in India and he became a star which followed up with a great Ranji season with 739 runs and 42 wickets.
He was picked to play for India and scored a gutsy 60 in losing cause in his first game. All was good. He was fighting for the all rounder spot with Yousuf Pathan and did come on the top for the battle of the number 7 position till 2009.
Then the path towards downhill started for him. He was mediocre in 2009 IPL, still picked for world 20-20 in England, where he had a very poor match against England. Chasing 153, India was lost by 3 runs and Jadeja, coming at number 4, ahead of Yuvraj and Dhoni, scored a scratchy 25 of 35 balls. His technique against moving ball was questioned. Poor form continued. His ability to tackle the pressure situation was questioned once again when he was run out 3 balls after Sachin’s dismissal of 175 in india’s epic chase of 350 which they end up being 3 runs short again.
Big blow came before IPL 3, when he was suspended by Rajasthan Royals for trying to make unauthorized deals with other teams, a big disappointment for a youngster like him and it also shows that success was going in his heads. He sat home during the entire length of the IPL but promptly selected by Indian team for 2010 world 20-20, to be held in West Indies.
The poorest display came in the match against Australia. 12 balls in his two overs went for 0,1,0,6,6,6 6,6,6,0,0,1. 38 runs in 2 overs and then he was again run out for 4. It was the final nail in the coffin and most of the Indian cricket fans wanted his head.
He still got selected for the tour of Zimbabwe, Asia cup and tri series in Sri lanka and after his moderate success was dropped. A victorious world cup campaign came and gone with no Ravindra Jadeja in it and lots of pundits in Orkut and Facebook were glad to see that team management’s obsession with Ravindra Jadeja is gone.
After a decent IPL-4 with the new team Kochi Tuskers Kerala and a not so noteworthy Ranji season Jadeja was picked for the Indian ODI team in their disastrous England tour in 2011.
His comeback match was once again a close loss for India, but unlike earlier times Jadeja was the only saving grace for the away team. After 0-4 thrashing in the test series and already 0-1 behind in the ODI series, India collapsed to 25/4 and then 58/5 in the 19th over when Jadeja entered. He was out in the 50th over after reaching his highest ODI score of 78 and pull India to 234. England finally won by 3 wickets in D/L method but with his 2 wickets Jadeja got the man of the match in his return.
Post this he has played all the following 9 ODIs for India till today, scoring runs at an average of 39.80 coming at number 7. His bowling was more note-worthy with 18 wickets at and average of 23.44, more importantly in all the 10 matches after his return he took at least 1 wicket with 33/4 being his best in this period coming against England in Eden Gardens.
In his second coming, Jadeja looks solid with the bat and effective with the ball and he is always a wonderful fielder. But a new urgency can be observed in his cricket now, may be finally he has realized the importance and the immense pleasure of getting a chance to be in India’s playing eleven. With his captain supporting him strongly, I will hope that this guy will make a very successful career of his own. He is one of those true all rounders which India craved for long and if he can make himself good enough for number 6 spot in tests that would give India lot of variety, specially in foreign conditions.
So, Happy Birthday dude! Play well, play sincerely! Let me be proud of another player who shares his birthday with me after the Freddy- Shirt waving- pedalo riding-beer drinking- Flintoff, and Rudra Pratap- Raw Pace- Singh!
Post Script: I finished the above piece on Sunday morning and decided to post it on 6th. Then I realized that he has a match on 5th and decided to add those stats with his stats after making a comeback to India team. But for the first time in his return he went wicket less, got run out again for just 11 and India lost a close ODI. I just hope his terrible form is not coming back and it’s just the effect of law of averages.
Carry on the good work boy!! Happy Birthday and All the Best for the coming year!!