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Ravindra Jadeja A great utility player for India


India dominated the league stage of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 but fell inches short of sealing their berth for the final as they suffered a heartbreaking loss against the Black Caps in the first semi-finals. After skittling the Kiwis out for a challenging total of 239 runs, India lost their top six batsmen for just 92 runs. It was then all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who took the onus on himself and played the innings of his life to salvage some pride for the two times World Cup champions.

Jadeja added a thrilling 116-run partnership with wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni for the seventh wicket against the Kiwis and they both almost sealed the game for India. After the 18-run loss in the semi-final, Jadeja took on to Twitter to thank the fans for their support and assured them that he will keep giving his best till his last breath. “Sports has taught me to keep on rising after every fall & never to give up. Can’t thank enough each & every fan who has been my source of inspiration. Thank you for all your support. Keep inspiring & I will give my best till my last breath. Love you all,” he wrote in his inspirational message for the fans. In the World Cup, Jaddu also contributed to his team on several occasions when he was used as a substitute fielder. He claimed important catches for the Men in Blue before finally getting included in the playing 11.

Is this World Cup brought out the utility value of the cricketer Ravindra Jadeja after so many years? Has he finally sealed his berth in the ODI’s? The answer to this was his selection to the ODIOs and Tests for the Caribbean tour. It appears that Ravindra Jadeja has finally won the confidence of those who matter to be included across all formats of the game on the full tour of the West Indies. The Saurashtra all-rounder has not played a Twenty20 for India for two years. But he has proved his adequacy as a player of much value in Tests: 86 not out against England at The Oval last September; 100 not out against the West Indies at Rajkot in October; 81 against Australia at Sydney in January 2019. He was also among the wickets.

Well into his 31st year, Jadeja’s luck, as far as his ODI merit is concerned, changed for the better after all-rounder Hardik Pandya - initially chosen for the T20 and ODI home series against Australia in February - was rested in order to tend to his lower back. The series offered Jadeja a last chance to win a place in the Indian team for the World Cup. Jadeja’s numbers were not great in the four matches - 45 runs and three wickets at 63.33.

In the previous ODI series in Australia, that India won 2-1, he scored eight runs in the one match he got to bat and took two wickets at 75 in three matches. However, Jadeja has always been a scintillating fielder point and this added to his wicketto-wicket bowling kept him in the fray. The selectors kept this in mind, and he was chosen ahead of a fourth specialist fast bowler. They also looked at him as a second left-hander after Shikhar Dhawan (Rishabh Pant was not in the original squad for the World Cup).

Jadeja was unlucky as the Indian skipper Virat Kohli showed more faith in the wrist spinners - Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav - for most of the competition in England and it was only in the last league match that Jadeja got the nod. He bowled 10 overs and returned one for 40 against Sri Lanka and continued his good showing (one for 34 in 10 overs, and 77 off 59 balls) in the semi-final against New Zealand. Now Jadeja’s challenge is to seal a permanent slot in the shorter versions of the game.

Meanwhile former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar has finally admitted that Ravindra Jadeja proved him completely wrong with his performance in the World Cup 2019 semi-final between India and New Zealand. Manjrekar has faced a lot of backlash on social media ever since he called Jadeja a 'bits and pieces' cricketer. "I am not a big fan of bits and pieces players which Jadeja is at this point of his career in 50-over cricket. In Test matches, he is a pure bowler. But in 50-over cricket, I would rather have a batsman and a spinner," Manjrekar had said. Jadeja had even reacted strongly to Manjrekar's comments on Twitter stating “Still I have played twice the number of matches you have played and I’m still playing. Learn to respect ppl who have achieved. I have heard enough of your verbal diarrhoea.”

But it was Jadeja who kept India in the run chase against New Zealand with his 59-ball 77 which almost took the team past the finish line. Manjrekar was one of the first ones to appreciate the left-hander for his brave knock after the game. Sanjay Manjrekar wrote on Twitter, "Well played Jadeja" and added a wink at the end of his tweet.

Manjrekar, though, was quick to accept his mistake on the comment he made on Jadeja and said that the India all-rounder completely ripped him apart with his sheer brilliance on the field. "Bits and pieces he just ripped me apart today. By bits and pieces of sheer brilliance just proved me wrong on all fronts. But this Ravindra Jadeja we have not seen very often. In the last 40 innings his highest score was 33. "But today he was brilliant. Economical with the ball, and that familiar celebration that you see after he gets to his fifties," Manjrekar said in a video posted by the ICC. Jadeja brought out his familiar sword-wielding celebration after he got to his fifty but before that he pointed towards the stands and made a gesture which seemed to have been aimed at Manjrekar. "I have to apologise to him, he was looking for me, but I wasn't there. I was in the lounge taking my lunch, I'm sorry," Manjrekar joked. SPORTS By Srini Vasan


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