New Delhi, March 14 - Considered a complete package for the limited-overs cricket, Ravindra Jadeja's career saw a surprise turn when he was left out of the national team after the ODI against West Indies in July 2017.
For close to a year and two months, he was seen as India's spin weapon in only Test cricket. But the Asia Cup in Dubai last year saw the selectors deciding to give him another chance, and while he is still not the first-choice spinner in this Indian team, he has clearly booked himself a place in the flight for the World Cup.
Speaking to IANS, sources in the team management who are aware of the developments said his quality performance in the just concluded ODI series against Australia has all but sealed his place in the flight to England for the 2019 World Cup.
"Jadeja is very much in the scheme of things. Even if he doesn't automatically find a place in the XI, his role could be important if the wickets in England are flat and offer a bit of turn, as expected for now. Also, you have to realise that he is your only conventional left-arm spinner in the team and in a long format tournament like the World Cup, you will need him.
"Also, with Jadeja what you get is an extended lower middle-order. Yes, he might not be scoring runs in every game, but he can definitely wield the willow. Not to forget his brilliance on the field. He is one of those who can easily save 10-15 runs with his pace across the square. In high-pressure games, 10-15 runs can be worth its weight in gold," the source explained.
Asked if that meant it was a three-way race for the two spots between Kuldeep Yadav, Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal, the source said that was a call that would have to be taken by the coach and captain depending on how they assess the opposition.
"See, a lot of factors go into deciding the XI. While Jadeja is a bowler who is primarily one who restricts runs, Kuldeep and Chahal pick wickets. Also, there is no denying the fact that Chahal is one of the bowlers with the biggest hearts and that is something the team management enjoys. The primary goal is to pick wickets," he said.
On the recent flak that Chahal has been coping due to his poor show in the second T20I against Australia in Bengaluru and then the ODI in Mohali, he said: "T20Is at Chinnaswamy is almost like being used as a bowling machine. As for the ODI in Mohali, trust me Chahal is a different bowler when he has MS Dhoni behind the wickets. So, just one bad game doesn't mean that he has turned bad overnight."
While it is true that Kuldeep and Chahal are both wicket-taking bowlers, Jadeja too has improvised and that was very much visible in the fifth ODI between India and Australia at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Wednesday as he picked two crucial wickets to derail the Australia innings. Clearly, Jadeja has peaked at the right time in white-ball cricket.