Parthiv, Jadeja take centre stage in absence of seniors
Mumbai: Two left-handers, both hailing from Gujarat -- Parthiv Patel and Ravindra Jadeja utilised their chances and made impressive returns to the Indian cricket team following the recent spate of injuries to some key players.
The story of Patel and Jadeja, the former recalled in the ODI team in the West Indies and the latter in England, is unfolding on parallel lines as both have followed an almost similar pattern.
Both have been a vital cog of the team ever since their comeback, after having failed to seal a berth in 4the World Cup side.
Patel was recalled into the side as skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, after a lenghthy IPL preceded by the six-week long ICC World Cup sought rest.
He was made to open the innings in the West Indies in the absence of regular openers -- Sachin Tendulkar, who was rested, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag (both injured).
In alien conditions, he made 26 in the lone Twenty20, and 13, 56, 46, 26, and 6 as an inexperienced Indian squad emerged victorius in the West Indies clinching the ODI series 3-2.
Following that tour, Patel has scored 231 runs in eight innings, inclusive of five ODIs in England where a majority of the Indian batsmen had struggled and his highest score was 95.
While the scores may not be that big, it were the starts he provided with fellow West Zone opener Ajinkya Rahane on most of the occasions that helped India set challenging totals in England.
Parthiv had made a quickfire 38, adding 74 runs for the first wicket with Rahane at Mohali to help India chase down almost 300 with relative ease.
However, the journey from being the youngest wicket-keeper to play Test cricket to positioning himself as the alternative opener hasn`t been easy for the Gujarat skipper, who has represented India in 20 Tests and 31 ODIs.
"(Wicket-keeper batsman) Dhoni being the skipper has been a big drawback for him (as he cannot make a come back as a keeper). However, he has performed well in domestic cricket for the past two years. In the shorter version of the game, I`ll prefer him as the back-up opener," said former India coach Anshuman Gaekwad.
Gaekwad, who has seen Parthiv from close-quarters having coached the Gujarat side, felt the 26-year-old was the most talented among the second-choice wicket-keepers.
"Keeping is a specialised job and in it he has an edge over the others. I think when compared he is better than Wriddhiman Saha (second-choice keeper in Tests) in keeping as well as batting," he added.
Meanwhile, ever since he made his comeback in the third ODI at the Oval in England, replacing an injured Rohit Sharma, Jadeja has scored 131 runs at an average of 43.67 and taken nine wickets at 29.66 in six matches.
In fact, in the first match he played in the series, Jadeja scored his personal best of 78 after India were reeling at 58-5 at one stage to provide some respectability to the total.
The 22-year-old Saurashtra player with his handy left-arm spin has ensured that Dhoni does not face much difficulty choosing his fifth bowler, something the skipper has been battling to do ever since Yuvraj Singh was out of the side due to injuries.
"Jadeja has realised he cannot take it lightly. The way he was left out he should make the most of his chances. He is a useful batsman and a good fielder," said Gaikwad.
On Jadeja`s bowling, the former Test opener said, "He has learnt to vary his line and length a little bit. Earlier, he was too stereotype. In ODIs and T20s you cannot be too predictable. Playing in the IPL has helped him too."
Gaikwad`s advice for both the Gujarat players is simple.
"Having played so much cricket, whatever opportunities they get they should make the most of it. There is too much of competition and they cannot take it lightly."