With 49 scalps in 29 games, Ravindra Jadeja does the star turn
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Four wickets at 97.50 apiece in 10 ODIs, a wicket every 18 overs, and an economy rate of 5.44 per over. Clearly not numbers that make great reading for any bowler. It's unlikely that Ravindra Jadeja will look back at 2012 very fondly, at least in terms of his bowling exploits in the ODI arena.
As we rolled into 2013, few would have imagined the all-rounder from Saurashtra transforming in to a regular member of Team India, forget becoming a key member, before the year-end.
But on Thursday while Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co capped off yet another successful run-chase in the most nonchalant of fashions, Jadeja quietly went past a significant milestone at Kochi's Nehru Stadium. For, when he had Darren Sammy caught at long-on, the left-arm spinner had just accounted for his 49th scalp of the year, taking him past Saeed Ajmal to become the highest wicket-taker in ODIs this year. Those wickets coming in 29 matches and at an average of 22.22 with the economy rate a stupendous 4.19 — a far-cry from the horrors of 2012 — which is the third-best this season.
In fact, Jadeja has picked up more wickets during the last 11 months than he did during the last three years put together. His three-wicket haul against the hapless West Indians in the first ODI was the seventh occasion in 2013 that he had taken three or more wickets.
He's also been in many ways skipper Dhoni's go-to man during a year where the world champions have recorded 21 wins and just lost on seven occasions. Probably to the extent where he's overtaken R Ashwin, who has 35 wickets at 31.48 this year, as the team's premier spinner in ODI cricket.
Jadeja's done so without ever coming across as a serious threat. Renowned for his flashy disposition otherwise, his bowling style is the complete opposite. A run-of-the-mill bowling action, a limited array of variations and a reliance on his ability to literally bore the batsmen into errors. Of course, mixed with subtle changes of pace and trajectory.