Updated: October 16, 2021 2:11:03 pm
It was not meant to be Ravindra Jadeja’s night. Or so it seemed for the first two hours of the game; he wasn’t required to bat, his first two overs were creamed for 25 runs, and a wicket was chalked off for the weirdest of reasons, the miscued ball hitting a near-invisible wire. Yet, it turned out to Jadeja’s night in the end. In big games, in big moments, there tends to be his inevitable stamp.
But his first big impact moment itself could have been a heartbreak moment. Venkatesh Iyer’s miscue hung in the air for an eternity, furnishing enough time for Jadeja to scamper from extra cover to wide long-off. Then at the final moment, he seemed to misjudge the catch, the ball dropping shorter than he had judged. But he stretched his hands out, and though he lost his balance, his focus didn’t waver. The ball bumbled out of his palms, but those fingers didn’t quiver. He clung on though half the ball was out of his hands. Jadeja did well to prevent the body slipping fully, a head-on fall would have resulted in him dropping the catch due to the intensity of the body hitting the ground. When finally he fell over, he was in total control of the ball. To pause when one is diving intentionally is hard enough, to do so when one is not in control of the body is subliminal athleticism.
— Chennai Super Kings – Mask P😷du Whistle P🥳du! (@ChennaiIPL) October 15, 2021
It could have been so easy for him to sulk after that cancelled wicket and surrender to his lucklessness. But Jadeja is built of sturdier armoury. Had he dropped the catch, the match could have slipped out of CSK’s grasp. Shardul Thakur seemed already living on the edge, having seen edges fly off him and catches elude him. Instead, his persistence with the scrambled seam was rewarded, as he made one hold up after pitching and stop on the batsman without taking the pace of the ball. His scrambled-seam menace was even more noticeable when he had Nitish Rana splay a drive to mid-off. Rana was through the shot early, as the ball hung an eternity in the air after pitching. Suddenly, CSK had two wickets in the space of four balls. The match burst open like a monsoon cloud.
Just Jadeja things! 👌 👌
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) October 15, 2021
Four balls later, they had a third, that of the potentially dangerous Sunil Narine. The ball seemed soaring for a six before, invariably, Jadeja intervened at deep midwicket. This time, he did not require any last-minute adjustment or fingers performing emergency jugglery. The catch was measured to perfection — from his short sprint backwards to the one-leg pirouette at the edge of the fence. Had a muscle of his body rebelled, he would have lost balance and stumbled over the rope. But every sinew of his synchronised seamlessly to complete the catch.
Then the luck with the ball turned too. In his fourth over, Jadeja picked two wickets that effectively sealed the game for CSK. Here again, his unflustered character shone through. Many bowlers would have nursed the scars of the battering he had received (three overs for 34 runs), but Jadeja strutted in with the arrogance of a bowler on a hat-trick. Fifth ball, he ejected Dinesh Karthik with what seemed like a rank short ball. But it might have been a cleverly-laid trap. The leg-side boundary was shorter and Karthik would invariably look to pummel a short ball out of the ground. But it came slightly faster than Karthik had gauged and he ended up mistiming one of his staple strokes. It might have been a punt, but Jadeja is not someone who would die ruing that ball.
The second wicket was throwback Jadeja. Flat and fast on middle stump, angling into the body from around the stumps, delivered from wide of the crease. Shakib Al Hasan, like a novice, played the angle and looked to shovel him down the leg for a quick single at best, but the ball was too quick for him, delivered at 103.5 kph, and beat him for pace. Jadeja celebrated ecstatically, like a man who has his name written on the skies, soon to be illuminated by the dazzle of fireworks.