‘He’s been a very understated cricketer, but a top quality cricketer in the field, with the ball, and with the bat – priceless.’
IMAGE: Ravindra Jadeja celebrates after completing his half-century. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Ravindra Jadeja’s all-round brilliance could not fire India to the final of the ICC World Cup but the 30-year-old at least showed what he can still offer the team in the first semi-final against New Zealand on Wednesday.
Playing only his second match of the tournament, Jadeja returned figures of 1-34 in his tidy 10 overs and produced two moments of fielding excellence at Old Trafford.
He first dismissed Ross Taylor, New Zealand’s top scorer, with a pinpoint direct throw from midwicket and, in the next ball, took a tricky catch to send back Tom Latham.
The all-rounder then returned to top-score with a belligerent 77, celebrating his fifty with a characteristic sword dance before raising his arms in an animated gesture toward the commentary box.
Jadeja has had a Twitter spat with former India player-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar who had described the all-rounder as a “bits and pieces” player.
India captain Virat Kohli said the Saurashtra player did not need any extra motivation from the management team.
“I don’t think any of us had to say anything to Jadeja after what happened over the last one week,” Kohli said after the loss at Old Trafford.
“He was quite ready to just get onto the path to be honest and you saw the passion with which he played.”
Jadeja could not force a victory but Kohli feels this is the left-hander’s best innings he could remember.
“In my watching the data for 10 years, me playing with him as well, this is probably his best knock because the kind of pressure, the stage we were at, almost out of the game, and then he produces that,” said Kohli.
With Jadeja in the middle, the team had been optimistic of completing the tricky chase, the skipper added.
“He was very motivated. At that stage, we all felt in the change room that the game can be closed out, it can be done,” he said.
“He’s been a very understated cricketer, but a top quality cricketer in the field, with the ball, and with the bat – priceless.”