Every time Dharmendrasinh Jadeja has grabbed a bunch of wickets and had his name in the newspapers he would come across a few people who would ask him whether he is related to Ravindra Jadeja. Not only does he share a surname but Dharmendrasinh is also a left-handed spinner. If Saurashtra is seated at the top of Group A table with three outright wins, some credit should go to the 28-year-old Jadeja from Rajkot. He has taken 32 wickets in six games with three five wickets haul and as coach Sitanshu Kotak says, he hardly gives any “loose deliveries”.
He might be the toast of the team now but it’s interesting that Jadeja was a late beginner. He used to while his time as a medium pacer in tennis ball cricket before his father, a farmer, told his son to try his luck in proper cricket.
Dharmendrasinh went to nearby nets where he began to bowl Chinamen, left-arm wrist spinner. Soon, after realising that it was not taking him anywhere, he turned to left-arm orthodox. The unconventional Chinaman wasn’t quite a hit with local traditional coaches in Rajkot and some advised him to turn to conventional spin to earn a chance to play for Saurashtra team. However, it wasn’t still easy. Dharmendrasinh had to wait, especially when Ravindra was playing in the team. His old interest in the art he had quit piped up again when he saw Kuldeep Yadav made rapid strides as the lone Chinaman bowler in the country and made his way to the national team.
Seeing Kuldeep these days, Dharmendra says he regrets giving up his old style of bowling. “I had stopped being a Chinaman bowler a decade ago, it will be very tough to regain that craft again. Sometimes I feel that had I continued, it might have been good. Kuldeep has played for India. But back then not many people knew about that style of bowling. Kuldeep has just come along recently and now people know more about that left-arm wrist spin. Everyone told me bowl normally, only then I can get a chance to move up and so I decided to change.” Though his orthodox spin was pretty decent, stiff competition hampered his progress. Ravindra had already moved up the ranks and was beginning to get noticed by national selectors. Dharmendra Singh didn’t get to play junior cricket, he would get an odd chance now and then with Saurashtra U-25 team.
Ranji call-up came in 2013 when Ravindra was away on Indian duty. Dharmendrasinh seized his chance with a nine-wicket match haul on his debut but even then, he has had to make way when Ravindra made himself available for the state team. It’s the IPL snub that has disappointed him more. Despite being among wickets for two seasons, Dharmendrasinh has gone unnoticed for an IPL berth. He has kept plugging away though, ending the last season with 33 wickets from six games.
Before every IPL auction process, Dharmendrasinh would register his name for IPL auction but no one has shown any interest. Like every year, he hopes that the IPL auctioneer will scream ‘sold’ beside his name but that little big moment hasn’t arrived yet for him.
“I had some hope this year as I was doing very well in domestic cricket but nobody even called me for trials. At least if I can get to trials, I can find what’s lacking in me.” The stereotypical notion that Saurashtra turns out spinning tracks has, he feels, hurt his case. “Everyone thinks Saurashtra produces spin tracks and that I pick my wickets on them but that’s not the truth. I have taken wickets everywhere,” he says. “I have also heard that no one selects a player from Saurashtra. There is a lot of talent there but opportunities are lacking.”
Dharmendrasinh has another chance to show his skills when he takes on Mumbai at their backyard in Wankhede stadium. Mumbai is not the powerhouse team as before and their bowlers have been struggling a touch with injuries. Even their captain this season Dhawal Kulkarni isn’t still fit for the game. Their batting can be still good on their day, and Dharmendrasinh has his job cut out.