The ‘bits and pieces’ of a Jadeja special

When the entire nation gave up on the semifinal against New Zealand, with India at 92/6, out came Ravindra Jadeja who smashed a fifty on a wicket that had choked the top order.

Ravindra Jadeja after reaching his fifty against New Zealand in Manchester on Wednesday.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

It was never easy, but not impossible either; that’s the message Ravindra Jadeja conveyed while batting in the crucial World Cup semifinal against New Zealand at Old Trafford in Manchester on Wednesday. Batting at No.8, the all-rounder took guard at 92/6. Chasing 240 for a place in the final, India still needed 148 off 117 balls. The Black Caps knew they were close, but for the Indian cricket fans, Jadeja meant hope.

The left-hander brought in fresh perspectives with the well-planned knock — 77 off 59 balls (4x4, 6x4) — that rescued India from an untimely climax.

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Jadeja made it look easy. He picked the lower full-tosses and yorkers, sent the loose balls out of the park and was consistently rotating the strike with M.S. Dhoni (50 off 72 balls).

The counter-attack started from the six off Jimmy Neesham that went into the crowd over long-on. Against slow left-arm Mitchell Santner, he found his second six — a comfortable loft over long on; clean and risk-free. The third six — a hoick over deep mid-wicket, again off Santner — had a lot of heart and belief.

While the pressure kept mounting, Jadeja reached his 11 ODI fifty, swung his sword and got himself into the record books. He became the first Indian to score a World Cup fifty at No. 8 — previous best was Nayan Mongia (28) against Zimbabwe in Leicester in 1999.

But post the fifty, the boundaries started drying up. The only legitimate shot was the six off Lockie Ferguson straight down the ground.

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Jadeja and Dhoni added 116 runs for the seventh wicket. The left-hander departed with India needing 32 off 13, but he had proved his prowess in the tournament. After saving runs and taking spectacular catches as a super sub, he bowled tight overs against Sri Lanka (1/40) and New Zealand (1/34) apart from the fifty. He also took three catches in the two full games he got.

On the second day of the extended semifinal, Jadeja also pulled off a direct-hit to dismiss Ross Taylor — New Zealand's top-scorer with 74.

Jadeja’s heroic performance comes barely days after he put out a strongly-worded tweet tagging Sanjay Manjrekar.

Jadeja did not specify the context, but Manjrekar had been vocal about the all-rounder's chances of making it to Team India's playing XI in World Cup 2019.

"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 was quoted as saying by news agency IANS.