Chennai Super Kings were 154/4 when the final over of their innings began. Harshal Patel had figures of 3/13 from three at that time. From being 110/1 at the end of 13 overs, CSK were staring at a well below-par total batting first at the Wankhede.
But then in the final over, Ravindra Jadeja hit the reigning Purple Cap holder for five sixes and a four. In a matter of minutes, the match turned on its head. Chennai had all the momentum and they carried the confidence to survive a Devdutt Padikkal assault in the powerplay and register a resounding 69-run victory.
Jadeja was brilliant in the field as well, picking 3/13 and effecting a direct-hit run-out, but it was that final over of the CSK innings that truly dictated the outcome of the match. It deflated Royal Challengers Bangalore. Agreed, Patel missed his mark right through, but for Jadeja to meet the ball with the middle of his bat six out of six times was simply breathtaking.
The left-hander was a key contributor with the bat for CSK even in their forgettable IPL 2020 campaign. He scored 232 runs at an average of 46.40 to help his team get to respectable totals a number of times.
And in IPL 2021 so far, he has returned unbeaten three of the four times he has batted and provided crucial big hits in each of those innings.
This is why, despite Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sam Curran and Dwayne Bravo sitting in the dugout, it didn’t come as a surprise when Jadeja walked out to bat at No 5 against RCB on Sunday.
Chennai were in a tricky position at that time. Despite a solid opening stand, their run-rate wasn’t as high as it should’ve been and they had lost two set batsmen in Suresh Raina and Faf du Plessis off consecutive deliveries. CSK couldn’t afford to lose another wicket but also had to up the ante. And they put their faith in Jadeja.
“He’s (Jadeja) somebody who can change the game on his own and we have seen that significant change with his batting as well as bowling,” said Dhoni after the match. “It’s good to give him that extra opportunity, the extra few balls where he can express himself. It’s also important that the individual grabs the chance when you take a decision like that and he’s done that so far.”
In hindsight, it could be said that the extra balls Jadeja got to face helped him get set. He was batting on 26 off 21, with three fours, when the last over started. Although he wasn’t really struggling for timing, his strike-rate had been lower than usual. But by then, as RCB would soon find out, he had got his eye in.
With the opposition having the momentum and with the highest wicket-taker in the tournament running in with his tail up, Jadeja launched one of the greatest assaults in IPL history. The front leg kept going out of the way, the bat kept swinging beautifully, and the ball kept sailing over the mid-wicket fence.
“I was looking to hit hard in the last over, Mahi bhai told me he (Patel) will be bowling somewhere outside the off-stump and I was ready for that,” said Jadeja after picking up the player of the match award. “Luckily, I connected with everything and we managed to reach 191. That was a crucial over from our side. I knew I had to score some runs if I got on strike.”
Jadeja’s success with the bat isn’t new by any means. His average in Tests as well as ODIs has been climbing steadily over the past few years. Perhaps, Virat Kohli summed it up best when he said it’s great for Indian cricket that its premier all-rounder is firing on all cylinders.
In a T20 World Cup year, Jadeja has the backing of the captains of both his franchise as well as country. His ability as a bowler and fielder is world class, and now his batting is reaching new heights as well.
Respond to this article with a post
Share your perspective on this article with a post on ScrollStack, and send it to your followers.