Ravindra Jadeja’s been a story of comebacks. Written off early on in his career as a non-specialist, the southpaw has found ways to make a comeback again and again. His trademark sword celebration cutting through every criticism that has come his way. The latest being an assessment from ex-India cricketer and commentator Sanjay Manjrekar, who called him a ‘bits and pieces’ cricketer.
When Jadeja came out to bat, India were all but out of the match at 92/6. He was united with his mentor, MS Dhoni. The old CSK firm was back doing what they have done innumerable times, bat their team out of trouble. While Dhoni held one end up, Jadeja put on a show of quality strokeplay. His attacking intent kept India in the match and a century stand between the two meant India were in the hunt till the end. His trademark celebration at reaching his half-century showed both his angst and frustration at having to prove himself at the top level again and again. In the end it wasn’t to be, as Jadeja was dismissed for 77. India went on to lose by 18 runs but Jadeja’s second innings in limited overs cricket has just started.
‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going,’ this adage is befitting of the manner in which Ravindra Jadeja tried to defy the odds and power India to the final of the ICC World Cup with a batting performance for generations. It was a statement from a wounded heart, the heart of a street fighter who is ready for a challenge whenever and wherever, this time it came at a stage as big as a World Cup semi-final.
The statement didn’t go down well with the all-rounder, who has been fighting hard to make his way into the playing XI ever since the duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav captured the imagination of captain Virat Kohli and fans alike with their wicket taking skills. A reaction followed on Twitter as Jadeja questioned Manjrekar’s credentials for making such a statement. Support followed but Jadeja needed to respond on the ground, on the green, where players must respond to their critics.
He chose the biggest day of his cricketing career to make a statement, the ICC World Cup semi-final against New Zealand at Old Trafford, with his team in a huge hole. India’s heavy duty top order was expected to put on another ‘Tour de Force’ on Wednesday, that would see them dismantle New Zealand’s somewhat below par total of 239/8. But that was not to be. Overcast conditions and overnight rain meant India started their chase on the reserve day under conditions conducive for seam bowling. Movement off the pitch has always bothered India’s top order and the Kiwi pacers had their plans in place.
Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul were found wanting outside the off stump while Virat Kohli was trapped in front by the masterly Trent Boult. It was an ambush where the Indian top guns failed to fire. Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya put on an encouraging partnership but perished in their attempt to push the issue.