Ravindra Jadeja: A polished gem in ODIs, work in progress in Tests

Champions TrophyShikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Sing Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja pose with the ICC Champions Trophy on the balcony of the City Council building in Birmingham. (Reuters)

In spite of Shikhar Dhawan's highly skilled and audacious batting, in spite of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's calm and yet out of the box leadership, my player of the tournament at the Champions Trophy was Ravindra Jadeja. It wasn't a difficult choice. Dhawan and Dhoni were giants of the tournament but every time India needed a game-changing moment, Jadeja was in the picture. You sought him out in the field, you counted how many overs he had left and you backed him to get a big over with the bat in the end.

You judge players by whether they comfort you or unsettle you. Images get built over time and create expectations or anxiety. Then they get reinforced. If you fear a bowler is going to concede that big over, and he does, if your expectation is confirmed, the moment stays longer in the mind. So, too, with the matchwinner. For the first three years of his career, Jadeja unsettled you. If you needed 30 at run-a-ball or the opposition needed 9 an over in the last five, you worried when he came on. He gave the impression he did too.

At the Champions Trophy though, his body language was infectious. And he produced the game changing moments. He got the crucial runs at the end against South Africa (47 from 29 balls), produced the run out of Robin Peterson and bowled 9 overs for 31 in a 6.5 an over game. The West Indies were 103-1 inside the 20th over, then lost 3 wickets for 6 in 3 overs, all to Jadeja. Against Pakistan, he befuddled Misbah-ul-Huq at a crucial moment and his dismissal of Jayawardene in the semi-final showed he could get a mighty player of spin undone by cleverly camouflaged change of pace. So, by now, a reputation had been built, you knew he was the captain's go-to cricketer but you waited to see if he could do it on the big day.

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