India have been dominant in Test cricket over the last year, and have made an excellent start to the World Test Championship as well. As per the updated points table, they are the leaders by some distance, with 300 points from six games. New Zealand are a distant second, with 60 points from two Tests.
The biggest reason for India’s rise as a Test nation over the past year has been their potent pace attack, which is capable of taking 20 wickets on any surface. Mohammed Shami has reinvented himself, and is among the best fast bowlers in the world today. Jasprit Bumrah has taken to Test cricket like fish to water. All along, Ishant Sharma has used his experience to deliver at vital moments. And, with the resurgence of Umesh Yadav, India’s pace attack has never looked better.
Of course, India’s batting strength has also made a big difference with Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma making the openers’ slots their own, and Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane taking care of the middle-order. Amidst all these big positives, Ravindra Jadeja has quietly announced himself as a Test batsman, and so well that he is now occupying the crucial number six slot in the batting line-up.
Oval to Indore, the Jadeja story
The resurgence of Jadeja as a Test batsman began at The Oval in 2018 during the fifth Test in September 2018. Responding to England’s 332, India seemed down in the dumps at 160 for 6. However, Jadeja lifted them to 292 with a belligerent 86 not out from 156 balls, an innings featuring 11 fours and a six. Although India lost the Test despite second innings hundreds from KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, Jadeja’s confidence as a batsman has been at a different level since.
Following the innings at The Oval, Jadeja went on to register his maiden Test hundred against West Indies at Rajkot. He has also scored 81 against Australia at Sydney, 58 versus West Indies at North Sound, 91 and 51 against South Africa at Pune and Ranchi, and 60 not out against Bangladesh at Indore. In 11 Tests starting with The Oval game, Jadeja averages 63.60 with one hundred and six fifties. In fact, he has crossed fifty in all his last three Test innings.
A different story before that
Jadeja struggled to find his feet as a batsman in Test cricket in the first few years. From his debut in December 2012 to December 2016, he featured in 25 Tests. However, he managed only 848 runs with four fifties at an average of 26.50, with a highest score of 90. There was a significant improvement in the second phase of his career, from January 2017 to June 2018, when he featured in 11 Tests and managed 348 runs at an average of 38.66, with four hundreds and a best of 70 not out. This was followed by The Oval Test, and Jadeja has not looked back since.
While the Indian pacers and top and middle-order batsmen deserve a lot of plaudits for their exploits, the efforts of Jadeja the batsman are also highly praiseworthy.
Jadeja’s overall numbers in Tests as a batsman: 47 Tests, 1,832 runs, 35.92 average, one hundred and 14 fifties.