By Khurram Habib
New Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) MS Dhoni’s trusted all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has had a chequered Indian Premier League season thus far. Barring a couple of quick-scoring knocks, there hasn’t been anything too spectacular from the left-hander, who is seemingly finding it hard to get used to the pace of the wickets in the United Arab Emirates with the ball.
Used to bowling in half of his IPL games on the spin-friendly Chennai pitches, Jadeja hasn’t excelled with the ball in this edition. The performance, it appears, has been ordinary enough to make Chennai Super Kings skipper Dhoni to not give him any over during Wednesday night’s game against Kolkata Knight Riders.
The left-arm spinner has given away runs at 9.55, and picked just three wickets in six games, bowling 18 overs across five of those games.
He looked to have got into the groove in the match against KXIP, conceding runs at just 7.5 and picking a wicket – the only glitch being Nicholas Pooran hammering him for 10 off the last two balls of the spell. The deliveries in that game landed much better although there was still some inconsistency.
Despite that, the show against KXIP was fine and Dhoni’s decision to keep him out against Kolkata Knight Riders was a surprise. The only possible explanation would be that he’d want to keep the left-armer fresh for the back-end of the tournament when the wickets will get worn-out and dry and support spinners more.
CSK coach Stephen Fleming hinted at this possibility, saying the team is waiting for pitches to get dry so that they can use more spinners, including Jadeja. “If he (Karn Sharma) can get some confidence from this, as the pitches get drier, we can use him in combination with Piyush (Chawla) and Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja). We might be able to operate with more spinners, which we are used to (in India),” Fleming said after Wednesday night’s game against KKR.
Jadeja’s problem has been the confidence to use variations. It is well-known that he often struggles on surfaces good for batting. Remember the poor show in the 2017 Champions Trophy final against Pakistan?
Former India leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani, who trains spinners at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), has been watching Jadeja and other spinners closely in IPL and even dropped in a word of advice through Karn Sharma on what was wrong and what Jadeja needs to do to be successful on batting-friendly surfaces.
“The reason is that everyone knows Jadeja’s line, length and speed. If the wicket is not giving any help, batsman are well-prepared and are playing easily, walking down the wicket on expected lines and meeting the ball. What he needs to do on these wickets is create doubt because creating doubt is half the battle won. When you create doubt, the reaction from the batsman gets late and that is where he can err. Jadeja needs to bowl smartly, vary pace, entice batsmen,” says Hirwani.
(Khurram Habib can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)