Ravindra Jadeja has once again shown his mettle in international cricket by smashing his way to a maiden Test ton, following it up with a wicket of Sunil Ambris in the very first ball that he bowled in West Indies' innings.
The 29-year-old, with one hundred and nine fifties in 38 Tests, has a batting average of 30.83 in the longest format of the game, which is admirable considering the fact that he comes way down the order more often than not.
With the ball, he has scalped 178 wickets at 23.65, including nine 5-wicket hauls - numbers which can hardly be considered below par; but his repeated omission from the squad in Tests overseas remains a matter of much befuddlement.
The Indian team has always preferred the services of Ravichandran Ashwin when the tracks are not in the favour of the slower bowlers, but with poor returns, the cricketing realm is united in asking for a prolonged run in Tests for the Saurashtra player.
And why not? Each time India have found themselves in a peril, Jadeja has risen to the occasion to impress with either the willow or ball. Though he is already considered a match-winner in Asian conditions, he displayed his mettle overseas as well in the recently concluded tour of England, where the cricketer took the place of injured Ashwin in the fifth Test.
He made a mark straightaway, scalping 7 wickets in the game along with scoring an unbeaten 86 to help his team fight back in the match.
|Jadeja to India's help since January 2017|
|Opposition and Venue||Runs scored||Wickets taken|
|Bangladesh, Hyderabad 2017||60*||6/148|
|Australia, Ranchi 2017||54*||9/178|
|Australia, Dharamsala 2017||63||4/81|
|Sri Lanka, Colombo 2017||70*||7/236|
|England, Oval 2018||86*||7/258|
Despite averaging an impressive 23 with the ball and 41 with the bat in 2017, it was Ashwin who was chosen to be the lead spinner when India visited South Africa and England this year. Out of 10 Tests, Jadeja has turned out in only 3 this year, and Virat Kohli chose to partner newbie Kuldeep Yadav instead when he wanted to go in with two spinners instead of the experienced Jadeja.
With the best bowling average (21.38) for any spinner in Tests in the last three years, and with an ICC Test ranking of 2 in the all-rounder's list, Jadeja deserves to get an extended run in the playing XI even overseas. Come Australia, and fans would be rooting for Jadeja to pip Ashwin, who left a lot to be desired with his below-par showings in England.