Jadeja is a thinking bowler


No one is jumping on to the nearest rooftop to crow over the whitewash result in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Like man biting dog, it would have been news if India had lost one match out of five to their lowly opponents. The men of Harare were not always like this. They could play in their time. They were a sensation when they came to their first World Cup in 1983, beating Australia on ODI debut even as India were just about getting the upper hand against the West Indies in a match that spilled over to the next day.
The old Zimbabweans were a revelation. As a unit, their fielding was probably the finest in the world. After all, they were from the land of Colin Bland. They had seamers who could use the moist, green conditions of England and batsmen like Duncan Fletcher who could give it a thwack. And they fought for every run in the field, diving like men possessed, their methods so new it seemed to come from another planet, particularly to Indians of those days.
Zimbabwe’s racial history is apparent in the team composition today. It is not as if the blacks cannot play, just that they need far more experience as a group if they are to be a team at all. Today, they are a shadow of what their national team used to be, not only because most whites had left the country but because the system itself had gone rotten somewhere along the line, thanks to Chingoka and company after whom the late Peter Roebuck went with hammer and tongs.
The Zimbabwean batting display, save in one game, was a pale shadow of what it used to be when Dave Houghton was around, so too the Flower brothers, of whom Andy is still the best batsman seen in the world against spin bowling on Indian turners in the modern era. This is not to belittle the game trier Amit Mishra but the way they folded up against him suggested their batsmen would have to go back to coaching school to get their technique right.
From the Indian point of view, nothing could have been better than a young stand-in captain enjoying such success as to escape any untoward comparisons with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who we all know has one of the best limited-overs big match and cup captaincy records. There is none keener than Kohli to excel at the job although he lets it show too often. It’s nice to be intense but not so permanently close to the edge that the anger bursts out in full public view at the slightest provocation.
The point about bench strength has been proved. While it is a known fact that India produces batsmen by the dozen, the story is not quite the same in the bowling department. The second and third string seamers came up with very decent performances even as the spinners dominated. Ravindra Jadeja proved that he is a thinking bowler who can rustle up the minor variations even if he does not have the ability to turn the ball big. More than a natural bowler which he is not, he is clever. Clever should do very well in ODI cricket and in Tests too where he seemed to have the wood on Michael Clarke.
It is a positive sign if the team sustains its hostility to the extent of a clean sweep. Not succumbing to the pressures of giving everyone a game by inviting Parveez Rasool to play in the last game displayed resolve on the part of the team management, which did not wish to tinker with the bowling combination — the key to winning all the games. The young J&K player will surely get his chances, a point of view that even sentimental politicians from his state veered around to after doing some spade work for his inclusion.
The happy ending said many things of Indian cricket that was in poor shape after the England Test series and the Pakistan one-day series, both on home soil. The turnaround has been dramatic, perhaps even induced by a streak of stubborn honesty in the wake of the shattering IPL scandals.

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