Kedar Jadhav comes across as a very courteous man. On receiving the Man of the series award, from the man of all seasons, Sourav Ganguly, he bowed with an almost exaggerated Japanese courtesy. There seemed to be such genuine respect, that Prince Sourav too was compelled to reciprocate with an equally courteous bow.
In his interview with Ravi Shastri, yet again, Jadhav cited his learnings from MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. That he remained calm in a very tricky chase and gave India a serious crack, he attributed to Dhoni again.
Much as any player hopes to replicate another senior’s approach, it’s often the influence, in this case what Dhoni wields on the field, that is tough to recreate. Would a calming word or two to Ravendra Jadeja (after his two consecutive boundaries) have reined him on the subsequent delivery where he holed out to midwicket – would he have played it for a single had Dhoni been in his ear? Did it even matter what was said, as long as the senior statesman was there?
Kedar Jadhav has cemented his spot in India's ODI team with ecellent performance against England. AFP
The irony is, that Jadeja is by now an ODI veteran of sorts: he’s not just 28 years old, he’s played 128 matches, and batted in 89 innings. This includes 31 not outs which he could have added to at Eden Gardens. But too often, such has been the impetuosity of Jadeja’s batting that he fails to convert that much abused word in Indian cricket, talent, into results – especially while batting in Indian conditions where he’s much more at home.
Compare this to Jadhav who even though nearly four years his senior, is very much his junior in international cricket – he’s played 15 ODIs and has only become a certainty of sorts in the last two series.
While Jadeja tends to bat lower down the order, often as low as 8, his match awareness with the bat is quite unlike his smarts with the ball. This is Jadeja’s eighth year of playing international cricket. In the months and years to come, especially in away series and tournaments, his lower order batting could determine how many tight games India closes.
There won’t always be a Dhoni or Kohli in his ear. Often, he will be the senior batsman. Often, he’ll have to be in Hardik Pandya or another bowler’s ear.
Just as Jadeja is lower down, there’s KL Rahul up the order. Still only 6 ODIs old, and not yet 25, Rahul started against Zimbabwe with an unbeaten century and wrapped up with a 63 not out. Next, two low scores and a brainfade at Eden Gardens. In every likelihood, Rahul will make it to the squad for the Champions Trophy; and on the back of a score in the T20 series, even open the batting with Rohit Sharma, if he’s available.
While Rahul may have a carte blanche from his captain to attack, not putting a price on his wicket could start to bite when the centuries aren’t on call anymore. Like Jadhav, Rahul too has been forthcoming in his praise for Virat Kohli’s batting and approach, especially after the 27th century in Pune.
Unlike Jadhav, however, he’s failed to show any of his captain’s patience or application.
It does appear, that for both Jadeja and Rahul, playing in the air, is often the only option. That their limited overs’ game for some inexplicable reason, is inclined to be limited.
While both Jadeja and Rahul are already cricket stars in their own right, it is the ‘street-smart cricket’ of Kedar Jadhav’s bat that will work harder towards winning games for India.
For, it is Jadhav’s bat that is thinking on the lines of Kohli’s bat – it is the bat that appears to be connected to a brain that’s ticking.
And for quite some time now, even the most talented bat of them all, has also embraced thought.
If Rohit Sharma could for the team, perhaps, the others too will fall in line.
After the toss, Virat Kohli spoke about being ruthless and winning the series 3-0. It won’t take long for more players in the team to realise, that to be ruthless as a team, first a team must be ruthless with its players – and pick only those who are prepared to be ruthless with themselves and their game. And if that means, not playing in the air, as Kohli has adapted, so be it.