“He needs to improve and needs to step up really. We have a lot of faith in him but at the end of the day you can’t really play with hope,” MS Dhoni told reporters after India beat West Indies in a World Cup 2015 contest at the WACA. “What you want is actual performance on the field,” the skipper added.
On March 6, 2015 Dhoni made this statement for the struggling Ravindra Jadeja. The useful all-rounder was having a miserable World Cup and the skipper was concerned, very concerned, about his dipping form. The dip didn’t start with the West Indies game and didn’t end with the games which followed.
Before the Windies game Jadeja’s scores read a disappointing 5, 3, 2 and DNB. His contributions with the ball weren’t that encouraging either.
Yes, the World Cup was dominated by the Indian seamers, but Ashwin played his part, a crucial part. While his spin twin was on the up, Jadeja was only going down. The left-arm spinner’s last notable performance with the ball came way back in September 2014 when he returned with figures of 4/28 against England at Cardiff.
Interestingly, his best knock, in a long time, came during the same period when he smoked a brisk 87 in a losing cause against England in the ODI series. Since then, the 26-year-old has featured in 16 ODIs and has failed to cross the 33-run-mark (his highest score in last 10 months).
Even with the ball his best figures read a mediocre 3/44, against the West Indies at the Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi.
‘More time in the middle’
Dhoni, during the same press conference in March, said that he wanted Jadeja to spend more time in the middle and even hinted at a possible move to push him up the order. The skipper was keen on giving his premier all-rounder more time to play free cricket.
India’s last two ODIs against Bangladesh allowed him enough time to showcase his batting prowess but Jadeja threw it away. He had a good 14 overs to bat in the first ODI and another 10 in the second. A couple of fluent 30s, or even 40s, would have got his self-belief back.
That, however, was not the case as all he could manage were scratchy knocks of 32 and 19.