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Ravindra Jadeja ‘the batter’ puts England to the sword again in 3rd Test at Rajkot

The only error that Ravindra Jadeja made on the opening day’s play in his home Test was running debutant Sarfaraz Khan out.

The only error that Ravindra Jadeja made on the opening day’s play in his home Test was running debutant Sarfaraz Khan out. But Jadeja is still at the crease, unbeaten on 110, and he will look to make amends by doubling his score on Friday.

India’s batter Ravindra Jadeja celebrates his century (PTI)

It’s against England that he’s made most career runs — 998 runs, six fifties and two hundreds — and there will be the motivation to prove a point to old foe James Anderson, who appeared to be mocking him for his sword-twirl celebration after completing his ton, which came minutes after the run-out mix-up.

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It would also be fitting if Jadeja pushes on to score big, for his batting, though often overshadowed by his bowling, so often makes the decisive difference in Test cricket at home.

On Thursday, the all-rounder touched another milestone — he’s now third on the list of Indian all-rounders with the double of 3000-plus runs and 250 wickets after Kapil Dev (5248 runs and 434 wickets) and R Ashwin (3271 runs and 499 wickets).

In Indian conditions, Jadeja can earn a spot as a pure bowler. He averages 21 with the ball. What’s changed is his batting average is now double his bowling average, making him an all-rounder beyond compare at home.

Even overseas, his all-round skills are often considered a better package than his spin-twin Ashwin. Like Ashwin, Jadeja is an above-average batter for domestic cricket; he has scored three triple centuries in first-class cricket.

One of the reasons that his Test runs aren’t talked about as much is because his batting style does not fit into the definition of the quintessential, flamboyant left-hander. Without being spectacular, a lot of leg-side runs come with simple glances like the one with which he brought up his fifty and his hundred. Without the attractive high back-lift, his drives through the off-side do the job.

On Thursday, Jadeja walked out to bat in the ninth over with India on 33/3, the hosts facing the threat of squandering the bat-first advantage. At the time, India chose Jadeja to walk in at No.5 rather than debutant Sarfaraz Khan.

Jadeja batted with the confidence of a regular batter. “I don’t have to change my batting style because of the (inexperienced) batting order. In this format, there is no need to change,” he had said on the eve of the match.

He played his part in two partnerships — the double-hundred stand with Rohit Sharma for the fourth wicket and 77 runs with Sarfaraz for the fifth. Although he played second fiddle in both, it’s a measure of the confidence that the team has in the all-rounder’s ability that he was trusted to bat in the top five. Right through the year, when Rishabh Pant has been out of action, Jadeja has been the chosen one at No.6.

Jadeja will draw crowds in anticipation of a big innings on Day 2. He usually doesn’t let them down. The last time a Test was played in Rajkot, against West Indies in 2018, he scored a hundred. That Test was remembered more for Prithvi Shaw’s debut hundred. Here, Jadeja can own the Test with a defining innings. Back after a hamstring injury for this game, that would make it a resounding return.


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