In Kohli's company, Jadeja makes case for five-bowler strategy

After having hit a wall in ODIs and T20Is, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has now again emerged as the go-to man with improved batting displays across formats.

Kohli and Jadeja together plundered 225 runs off just 237 balls in Pune.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

In the World-conquering under-19 squad of India, one was captain, and the other was his deputy. More than a decade down the line, the flamboyant Virat Kohli has evolved into India’s most successful Test captain while Ravindra Jadeja has emerged as a reliable all-rounder across formats.

It was fitting that when Kohli eclipsed a plethora of record to become the first Indian to score seven double hundreds at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium on a frantic Friday, Jadeja complemented him from the other end as the duo shut the doors on South Africa with a whirlwind 225-run partnership off just 237 balls.

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With the duo being among the fittest cricketers across the globe, it didn’t come as a surprise that their running between the wickets came to the fore when Jadeja joined Kohli in the middle. And for the next three hours, the duo kept passing the baton of making mockery of a hapless South African bowling attack.

When Jadeja replaced vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane at the crease, Kohli was at his breezy best. While his captain was on a rampage, scoring 90 runs off 103 balls in the second session, Jadeja played the second fiddle to perfection, accumulating just 25 runs off 59 balls. It was also imperative for Jadeja to showcase his ability to bat responsibly, having been promoted to No. 6 with India preferring five specialist batters for the game.

After scoring 70 runs in two innings in the Vizag Test, Jadeja scored a quickfire 91 in the first dig in Pune. Photo: Vivek Bendre



After the break, however, Jadeja - one of the most underrated and under-utilised batsmen in international arena - switched gears in no time. He amassed 66 runs off 45 balls and matching his captain - who continued to punish the Proteas with panache - stroke for stroke. No wonder then that the onslaught after tea - when the duo piled on 128 runs in just 15 overs before Jadeja’s dismissal sparking the declaration - left South Africa shell-shocked.

Despite their association going all the way back to their junior days, Jadeja appeared to have lost the faith of his captain, especially in the shorter formats a couple of years ago. Having clawed his way back into the blues, the Jamnagar cricketer also seems to have earned enough confidence of the team management to bat at No. 6.

If the Indian think-tank persists with him at the batting position, especially while playing at home, Friday could well be just the first of many more partnerships by Kohli and Jadeja.