“Also, the fact that India have picked Jadeja only for the Test squad also boosts his chances. He is now seen as a specialist Test bowler alongside Ashwin”
Indian bowlers wreaked havoc in the one-off Test against Afghanistan and won the game by an innings and 262 runs after the batsmen posted fighting runs. Afghanistan were bowled out for scores of 109 and 103 in both the innings respectively as Indian bowlers were unstoppable. Indian spinners had a crucial role to play in both the innings, the duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin accounted for 11 wickets in the match.
Jadeja was the silent assassin in this attack, picking six wickets in the game and making his presence unavoidable for the future. With the England tour just around the corner, the side would be happy to see their players peaking at the right time. Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan scored centuries while the bowlers looked in good rhythm.
Jadeja was a part of the Indian Test squad for the recently concluded tour of South Africa, which the visiting side lost 2-1. He didn’t get a chance to play a single Test as the seamers had a major role to play and India opted for one specialist spinner in the first two games and went with only seamers in the final one. Things won’t be very different in England.
English conditions are widely reckoned to assist the seamers and swing bowlers. Although spin doesn’t play a huge role in these conditions, but it just can’t be written off. Spinners have done well in England and India certainly have a fine aura of tweakers to pick from. India have picked Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav in the Test squad.
It will be interesting to see if India will go with a solitary spinner or two in England. Chances are less of two spinners putting in the hard yards, but the possibility is always there. Will Jadeja get a chance? Will his run against Afghanistan earn him a spot in the playing XI? The Test series is weeks away, but one just cannot ignore the performance against Afghanistan.
Wrist-spin has been the talk of the town in the recent times and one shouldn’t be surprised if India pick Kuldeep Yadav as the only specialist spinner in the playing XI against England ahead of Ashwin and Jadeja. But in England, can a bowler like Jadeja could turn out to impactful is the question. Against Afghanistan, Jadeja showed some sheer discipline and kept things really tight.
Afghanistan didn’t have a dominating batting line-up, and many predicted Indian bowlers to do well against them. But to stand by everyone’s expectations is also huge. Jadeja is the fourth-ranked bowler in ICC Test bowlers rankings. Jadeja doesn’t have good memories of England, an average of 46.66 in four games with just nine scalps tells us why? The counter-argument would be that he is a different bowler now and has gained immense confidence.
Jadeja’s strength lies in his unerring accuracy and ability to bowl marathon spells. He can keep things under control, but with just one spot available for the grab will India give Jadeja a chance. Let’s introspect his run against Afghanistan.
Jadeja had two wickets from the first innings that of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman; Ashwin was the wrecker-in-chief with four wickets to his name. India imposed the follow-on and the seamers wreaked havoc after which, Jadeja joined the party. He accounted for four wickets in the second innings and bowled with some guile. He mixed up his deliveries well and kept the batsmen on their toes.
The question is, Jadeja was the highest wicket-taker from this Test, will it make any difference in his fortunes in England? Will he get a game or warm the benches just like he did in South Africa? He does have some healthy numbers to back up his selection and has been on a roll in the recent times, but if given a chance will he be able to replicate the same in England. Also, Kuldeep Yadav has been constantly scaling newer heights, a wrist-spinner can do well even on surfaces that don’t have enough help to offer.
All the mysteries will be unveiled when India lock horns with England a few weeks later. As of now, every one stands an equal chance, and India does have a good tension to take care of with all their players peaking at the right time. Also, the fact that India have picked Jadeja only for the Test squad also boosts his chances. He is now seen as a specialist Test bowler alongside Ashwin.