Ravindra Jadeja: No. 1 ODI bowler – No joke this!

Following a series of disastrous performances with his bat, I came across a Twitter handle - ‘Sir Ravindra Jadeja’. I liked the idea and posted a few jokes about the left-hander on Facebook. My friends found them funny, which I could decipher from their comments. One day a friend of mine sent me a message me saying he read a ‘Sir’ joke somewhere else and I should slam the guy for plagiarizing my idea. I was left gobsmacked when a few more friends came up with similar suggestions. I had to tell all of them that it wasn’t my idea and it was something which I had myself read somewhere and had decided to add to the ‘Sir’casm. Sir Jadeja jokes went viral and even players from Team India didn’t spare the left-hander and posted jokes about him through their personal accounts on Twitter.

Such was the scenario that the hilarious Rajnikanth jokes took a backseat as Sir Jadeja dominated all social networking sites. Even in the cricketing fraternity, Sir Jadeja jokes came as a relief for people like Chris Martin and Rohit Sharma who are often the butt of all jokes.

And, while the entire cricket world was busy thinking about new jokes on him, Jadeja’s miserable form with the bat continued which further fanned the flames of his criticism.

However, just like Ashwin, Jadeja too had an added advantage as he played for the Chennai Super Kings. It is well known that anybody who does well for the team is considered for the national spot. Not because they do well in the IPL, but because Dhoni has this unique tendency of picking match-winners.

But when the Indian skipper picked Jadeja for the national squad, it was a move that was heavily criticised, and a series of disastrous performances from the left-hander’s willow didn’t do him any good either. The man who had slammed three triple tons in the domestic circuit was criticised for his inability to stay at the crease for even five overs while playing for Team India. Jadeja’s career was probably over, it seemed.

But Dhoni persisted with his move as he often does and Jadeja was picked for the India-Australia Test series earlier this year. For an all-rounder, who was yet to prove his skills in the ODIs, including him in the Test squad was something which surprised many. However, the series proved to be the turning point of Jadeja’s career.

There wasn’t a department where he didn’t impress. From troubling Michael Clarke throughout the series, to hitting the stumps when required, Jadeja became a force to reckon with. The Kangaroos probably weren’t prepared for his accurate line and length which dismantled them in what was a forgettable series for them. Every now and then, the 24-year-old also made significant contributions with the bat and silenced his critics. And Dhoni once again produced a match-winner for the Indian team through his consistent backing.

Meanwhile, Jadeja proved that his bowling in the India-Australia series wasn’t just a fluke as he continued his good show in the ICC Champions Trophy too where he emerged as the highest wicket taker with 12 wickets and also won the golden ball.

He looked like an effective bowler, but we all were left shocked when he became the number one bowler in ICC ODI rankings.

Jadeja is currently right there at the top with Sunil Narine in the rankings table. Somebody like James Anderson is at number six. In 22 matches this year, Jadeja has scalped 38 wickets at an average of 18.86 with an economy rate of 3.78. An Indian bowler has topped the rankings for the first time in 17 years; last to do so was Anil Kumble in 1996.

Thus, this year has been the turning point of Jadeja’s career as he has made some invaluable contributions for the Indian team. If given a choice and asked which four players he wouldn’t drop under any circumstances, I am sure MS Dhoni would name Jadeja.

And of late, there has been a decline in the number of ‘Sir Jadeja’ jokes. Probably, now the fans have realised his supernatural skills as a cricketer. When you dismiss Michael Clarke, five out of six times in consecutive matches, you have to be a special bowler. Jadeja for sure, is one.

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