Ravindra Jadeja, who played his last Test match against England in Manchester in 2014, has been picked for the Test series against South Africa, which starts on 5 November in Mohali. The BCCI announced the Test squad for the first two Tests as well as the fourth and fifth ODI squad in New Delhi on Monday.
Ravindra Jadeja is the only change in the Test squad, which played against Sri Lanka in the island nation. Jadeja has replaced Harbhajan Singh, who played two Test matches in Sri Lanka and was mediocre, taking only four wickets in the turning tracks of Sri Lanka.
Though Harbhajan is the senior most bowler in the team, he is past his prime and has bowled flat in Test matches, which does not help him in taking wickets. One wonders what has happened to his flighted deliveries? Is he scared that he will be punished or is it simply lack of confidence?
The selectors have made a fair call as they have picked Jadeja purely on merit. The left-arm bowler has been phenomenal in the Ranji trophy this season, picking up an incredible 24 wickets in just two matches for Saurashtra. With such a performance, one is relatively surprised that the selectors have picked him only for the Test series, as he could have played an important role as an all-rounder in the remaining two ODIs against South Africa.
Apart from taking 11 wickets against Tripura and another 13 wickets against Jharkhand, Jadeja has also scored 91 and 58 runs this season, which must have prompted the selectors to pick Jadeja.
Bringing in Jadeja could also add the much-needed variety as Jadeja is a slow left-arm bowler, who bowls a tight line and length and forces batsmen to play at the ball. Though Jadeja might not get the ball to turn square, he has good control over his bowling and possesses a good change of pace as he can fire in the ball -- Kumble style -- and catch the batsmen by surprise.
One is not sure regarding the availability of Ravichandran Ashwin for the first two Tests despite being selected in the 16-man squad as he suffered a side strain in the first ODI.
If Ashwin is declared fit, the BCCI needs to take a call on picking either Amit Mishra or Jadeja in the starting eleven unless they decide to go with three spinners with Jadeja as a No. 7 batsman.
Mishra should be an obvious choice as second spinner as the leggie bowled brilliantly against Sri Lanka, taking 15 wickets in the series.