Ravindra Jadeja unsheathed his bat, ran his fingers on its edges and started waving it around as if it were a sword. Rugged and bearded, wearing his thigh pads over his track pants, Jadeja looked like a modern-day Don Quixote slaying imaginary giants as his impromptu swordplay lasted about a couple of minutes.
There may be a few similarities between them — both are loved, parodied and are more impulsive than thinking types. However, unlike the legendary knight errant from La Mancha, the lad from Jamnagar does pull off a real adventure once in a while. Like in Auckland the other day.
At 186 for six, Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin’s task looked pretty much like tilting at windmills as they set about chasing 129. After all, the duo had between them scored 29 runs in the previous two matches.
Yet, it was because of these two that India bucked the recent trend of losing abroad and now have, if not the foot, then at least a toe in the door.
There is a renewed hope that after tying the third match, India can now go on to tie the series. For that to happen, however, India will have to take both in Hamilton on Tuesday and in Wellington of Friday — a ‘win, win’ situation. And Jadeja and Ashwin will be required to play a significant role, again. Not so much with bat, India will hope, but with ball.
Their batting on Saturday papered over the cracks in their bowling in the series. In fact, Ashwin’s place in the side was been questioned after he went wicket-less for over a month. He ended this 80-over dry spell with the big wicket of Corey Anderson in the last game and finished with 1-47 in his quota of 10 overs. Jadeja took two for 47. India conceded 314. And we are still dissecting two of the best figures on the day, you might ask. Indeed.
The reason behind those respectable figures is that New Zealand’s top-order batsmen, except Jesse Ryder have taken a very risk free approach so far in the series. They have scored steadily and built a platform for the likes of Anderson and Luke Ronchi to explode in the later overs. To make it clear, let’s analyse two such platforms in the series so far.
In the last game in Auckland, Jadeja and Ashwin bowled a majority of their overs — 8.1 and 9.1, respectively — when Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson were batting. They scored 77 off the two bowlers’ combined 104 balls to them on their way to the 153-run stand. In the first ODI continued…