Minutes before the toss on Friday, L. Sivaramakrishnan, the former India leggie-turned-commentator, exchanged a few words with Ravindra Jadeja, on the verge of making a return to India's blues after being ignored for well over a year. The Jamnagar jaguar appeared to be as confident as he has been for the past decade, ever since playing a key role in India Under-19's triumphant World Cup campaign in 2008.
A little over three hours later, Jadeja finished his spell of ten overs with figures of four for 29 versus Bangladesh in the Asia Cup's Super Four clash. The spell was a telling statement – just like the one he made at the Oval a couple of weeks ago after serving drinks in the whites for a long time – from a man who was perhaps unceremoniously dropped from India's limited overs' squads after India's tour to the West Indies in July 2017.
In fact, Jadeja was extremely fortunate to have featured in the match on Friday in front of a full house. Had it not been for Axar Patel's left index finger injury, Jadeja would have been recalled into the squad. Moreover, if Hardik Pandya, the team management's first-choice all-rounder across formats, hadn't broken down versus Pakistan two nights ago, Jadeja would not have found a place in the starting line-up.
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Thanks to a combination of injuries, one feels that India finally got its act right with the team combination in the conditions for the Asia Cup. On the flat and slowish pitches in Dubai, a spinner, who could contribute lower down the order with the willow, should always have been preferred in the starting line-up rather than a pace-bowling all-rounder. Pandya's injury resulted in the management presenting the vacant slot to Jadeja, rather than making a plethora of changes to the team composition.
As Jadeja displayed on Friday, his accuracy to land the ball in the same spot is way too difficult to tackle for the opposition batsmen. Moreover, it lends the depth to the batting line-up in case of a top or middle-order collapse.
Perhaps, it was the intent to make a statement or it was the freedom presented by a new captain, Jadeja revelled in the conditions to bamboozle the Bangladesh captain. If he continues in the same vein for the next week, he will pose plenty of headaches to the selectors and also build pressure on the two wrist-spinners who have been backed to the hilt by all the stakeholders over the last year.