CHENNAI: Talk of big-match players for India in any of cricket’s formats and one name that invariably figures high up on the list is that of Ravindra Jadeja. Be it an IPL final where he hit 10 off the last two balls to win the title for Chennai Super Kings or like on Sunday, deliver with the ball in the first match of the World Cup against a mighty Australia, Jadeja is always the man for the occasion.
His 3-28 on a spin-friendly Chepauk track that halted Australia on their tracks was a perfect combination of all the qualities that make Jadeja such a potent weapon.”I play for CSK and I know how to take wickets here. The moment I saw the pitch I knew I had to take a minimum of two or three wickets,” Jadeja said, exuding the simplicity that is so part of parcel of his game.
Employed by skipper Rohit Sharma only in the 20th over, the southpaw knew that he didn’t have to do too much. All that was needed from him to get the job done was to hit the right spot.
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“In an age when there’s so much talk about mystery spin, the beauty of Jadeja is his simplicity. You know what is coming from him, yet you can’t deal with him, time and time again,” former Australia captain Aaron Finch said in the commentary.
Jadeja knew that if he keeps hitting the right spot, the pitch will take care of the rest. “Even I do not know which ball will turn on a pitch like this and which one won’t. So my job was to keep varying the pace which I was able to do,” Jadeja said.
The left-armer had to wait for his fourth over to get the wicket of Steve Smith, but by the end of the World Cup, it might well be in contention for the ‘ball of the tournament’ award.
From the same spot where it didn’t spin much in the earlier delivery, this one turned 5.4 degrees to take the off-bail. Incidentally, it was the 11th time Jadeja has dismissed Smith –not exactly a mean feat if you consider the highs that the Aussie has achieved in his career.
With some bounce on offer as well, it didn’t take too long for Jadeja to remove another good batter of spin Marnus Labuschagne, caught behind trying to sweep. Left-hander Alex Carey too couldn’t figure how much the ball would turn and was leg-before missing Jadeja’s wicket-to-wicket line.
With Kuldeep and Ashwin providing quality support, Jadeja bossed the Aussie batters and if the pitches continue to help him, the Saurashtra man is in for a great World Cup.