New Zealand v India, 3rd ODI, Auckland January 26, 2014

Jadeja turns a batting corner

In spite of the first-class triple hundreds, Ravindra Jadeja has rarely given the impression of his potential as a batsman at the international level. The innings in Auckland may just change that

Crowe: Jadeja should be tried at No 4

Go back a couple of years or more. Think of Ravindra Jadeja with the ball. What is the image that comes to mind? Shane Watson slogging him for all those sixes? You muttering 'Oh, no' as you saw him come on to bowl in a tense situation? Come back to the present. Those images have been replaced with more comforting ones. Jadeja's predictability, and his occasional unpredictability, have become his strengths.

Now think of Jadeja with the bat. That image has not changed much. It is still one of him being sorted out easily with short balls. Or attempting something needless and getting out - like his dismissal in the second innings of the Durban Test against South Africa. An appearance of not seeming to have the wits to play the situation. Jadeja the bowler has earned respect, but Jadeja the batsman still has to. Those first-class triple centuries, rather than worthy medals, are still crosses to bear. He has seldom given the impression they are ever going to translate into anything substantial at the international level.

His unbeaten 66 that tied the Auckland ODI could potentially start to change that impression. More importantly, it could tell Jadeja that he could actually translate some of that first-class promise into performance, instead of simply being a useful bowler who bats.

Before this innings, only one of Jadeja's six half-centuries had come in an India win. Many of his contributions came after the game was over as a contest. But this one was well and truly alive and Jadeja made sure of that.

It takes special effort to haul your side to within one scoring shot of victory from 184 for 6 in a chase of 315. With the series at stake. All that after the last decent batsman fell with the score at 269, and No 11 came in at 286. To hit two fours and a six in the final over, and turn down a single in between, was an outstanding act of belief and execution under pressure.

Of course, it was far from perfect. Jadeja was dropped twice, he could have been run-out a few times. However, the chances were not the usual headless charges of the past. That he was able to take only one rather than two off the final ball should take absolutely nothing away from his effort, for India had no business being in that position had it not been for R Ashwin and Jadeja.

MS Dhoni said India were hoping Jadeja would continue to develop as a batsman and learn responding to situations. "Hopefully he gets more confidence out of this," Dhoni said. "There are certain things you can talk to individuals about. Not only him, but others as well, you can tell them what needs to be done. It is important what they are thinking and what they do when they are in the middle. That is entirely up to them.

"He has been very consistent in bowling and hopefully will contribute more in terms of batting. The kind of talent he has we have seen in the domestic circuit, loads of big hundreds. Just that he will have to get his thinking right. And this innings will help him."

You would never think of Jadeja as a highly cerebral cricketer. This is not doing him a disservice, but when you picture a thinking cricketer, Ashwin comes to mind. Jadeja is blessed with all-round cricketing talent. He is also one who just seems happy doing the captain's bidding. That is not a bad quality to have. If Dhoni wants to hold one end tight in a Test, Jadeja will not waver from that objective for want of trying. He will rarely try anything else all day.

But when it comes to batting, one's approach has to be a lot more fluid. Situations change every over, even every ball. You have to gauge them and react accordingly. You have to do that with the ball as well, but the stakes are much higher while batting. One mistake, and it is all over. This is the awareness that Jadeja needs to develop. He showed glimpses of that in Auckland. Can he make the world change its impression of him a second time?

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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