In their first warm-up game ahead of the Cricket World Cup on Saturday, India lost quite comfortably as New Zealand eased to 6 wickets win with over 12 overs to spare.
After winning the toss and batting first, Indian team could manage only 179 as their top order was blown away by Trent Boult’s swing and middle order falling against Neesham’s medium pace.
One positive feature for the Indian team was the partnership between Ravindra Jadeja and fellow left arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav. They combined for a 62 runs partnership off 57 balls, giving some sort of respectability to the score.
Jadeja’s form was really heartening as he scored a fine half century at better than run a ball. Initially circumspect against the pace bowlers, Jadeja took on the spin duo of Santner and Sodhi to great effect to race to his half century.
Jadeja has always been a useful batsman, with 3 first class triple hundreds as Sunny Gavaskar loves to remind us on commentary, and he can give you 10 overs with the ball pretty much every game. His biggest strength however remains his fielding. Jadeja is arguably the best ever fielder India has ever produced, saving 15-20 runs in the outfield every game, a very safe pair of hands, and someone who can change the course of the match with a direct hit every now and then.
Despite all that, it is difficult to see Jadeja fitting into the first choice XI when the tournament begins.
Jadeja can’t make it to the side as an all-rounder as Hardik Pandya gets the nod ahead of him due to his better hitting abilities. In fact, most of the ODIs Jadeja played recently were due to the fact that Pandya was missing due to injury or Koffee. Squeezing in another all-rounder really weakens the batting line-up as Number 6 is too high in a 50 overs game for both Pandya and Jadeja, more suited to 7 and 8 respectively.
Only other way for Jadeja to make it to the XI is in place of Kuldeep or Chahal, but he lacks the wicket taking abilities of those 2, one of the reasons Jadeja and Ashwin were side-lined for the 2 wrist spinners.
However, if Jadeja can produce another solid performance against Bangladesh in the next warm-up game, it will be difficult for the team management to ignore him. Even if he doesn’t get into the playing XI right at the start of the tournament, his form will give a lot of confidence to them that they have such players on the bench to call upon if needed.
What do you think, should Jadeja be in India’s first choice XI?