Under-the-radar Jadeja makes big impact once again

Alastair Cook announces retirement from professional cricket

Just a day before this match, India coach Rahul Dravid expressed his enthusiastic endorsement of the role Ravindra Jadeja has played in the team. Jadeja had taken nine wickets when Dravid spoke about him. Getting more than one wicket a match is a good return, but India’s attack has been so good that even Dravid felt Jadeja’s contribution had gone unnoticed. Even as Jadeja’s performance was about to come into its own, against Bangladesh in Pune, a late run by Virat Kohli towards his century meant he was the Man of the Match.

A day after Dravid’s comments, Jadeja became the fifth bowler to score a five in this World Cup. You can’t not notice it now. However, as Dravid said, the metrics that matter within the team are not just wickets.

“If you look at the numbers, we look at the statistics, we look at the data, we look at it a lot, he has been exceptional in this tournament,” Dravid said of Jadeja. “Because of how good our seamers have been and how fantastic it has been to see them up front, the performances of people like Jaddu and Kuldeep [Yadav] They have probably gone a little unnoticed.

“But I think his ability, and sometimes even having to bowl with a slightly wetter ball, because the ball was slightly wet… The kind of control he’s given us through the middle has been sensational. And just the areas Well, I think every metric point tells us that he’s on par with anyone in this tournament in terms of the areas that he’s been able to hit and the speeds that he’s been able to throw at.

“There’s a lot of good conversations throughout the group in our player meetings with him. And just seeing him in that kind of relaxed space and very clear about what he wants to do and what he wants to achieve. And just having that confidence. Doing that consistently time and time again it has been fantastic.

“Then with the bat, again, it’s not easy for someone like him because he bats at seven, doesn’t play for three or four games, and then he has to come back and play a pretty big inning each time. So that’s the hard part. . for guys who bat at six and seven. When you’re batting in the top three, you know that every game you’re going to get a chance to play. Sometimes at six and seven, you’re not really sure when “You’re going to get a chance.” chance. Or even sometimes you won’t even get a hit like they haven’t in the first two or three games. The way we batted, he just came in and played critical knocks.”

“And then his fielding is incredible, having someone like him up front and taking some of the catches that he has. It’s a really fantastic package for us, and someone who has really had a fantastic tournament.” [but] a little bit perhaps has gone unnoticed.

Jadeja, no longer flying under the radar, is pleased with his pace bowling and his ability to contribute with the bat. They asked him what luxury a player like him would be if he were captain.

“I would be very happy [to have myself]”Jadeja said. “And you asked me to think like a captain? “I’ve been thinking like the captain since the first game, it’s another thing that he hasn’t been.”

Once the laughter subsided, Jadeja said: “As an all-rounder, my role is to make an impact in difficult situations. When you need the crucial 30-40 runs. Or when there is a partnership and you need a wicket. Change the I always try to give a impactful performance, being there when the team needs me.

“And fielding I never take for granted. I still feel like I can make a catch. I’m always prepared on the field. I never relax. And that’s it: I still try to do the best I can. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes No”. “t, but I keep trying all the time.”

In a match where Jadeja said India were looking to challenge themselves, his performance under the lights will satisfy him even more. He said the course was much more difficult in the afternoon because not only did it have turns, but its slow nature made it extremely difficult to hit shots, adding that it sped up at night. “It was almost like challenging ourselves,” Jadeja said. “There could have been dew later in the night. If we find ourselves in a situation like that in a knockout match, we have to know how to handle it.”

Sidharth Monga is assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo