IPL 2022: Rockstar, Sir, Captain — Ravindra Jadeja’s rise to top

express news service

CHENNAI: In 2013, when Ravindra Jadeja spread his arms to a James Pattinson delivery and lost his off-stump, one could hear the loud giggles in Chepauk. These were still Jadeja’s early days and the MA Chidambaram Stadium didn’t really see much of an all-rounder, who joined Chennai Super Kings for the 2012 season.

In a team that had MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Mike Hussey, Dwayne Bravo, R Ashwin, Faf du Plessis and Doug Bollinger, Jadeja didn’t whistle every time he batted.

For an venue that usually welcomes open-handed people wearing the yellow jersey, there was a slight reluctance towards Jadeja. This was the period when people did not take his batting seriously despite scoring three triple centuries in the Ranji Trophy.

It also included a series of tweets from Dhoni, tagging “sir” before Jadeja as the troll quotient more than anything else. With Thala mocking Jadeja himself, it was only natural that the rest of his state joined in.

But, it was quite the opposite of what was going on in the franchise a year back. Before the 2012 auction, there was only one player on Dhoni’s wish list: Ravindra Jadeja. And the franchisee will spend Rs 9.8 crore to acquire their services.

Ten years later, here he is as Dhoni’s successor. And as in 2013, not everyone is convinced of the chosen one. There are many reasons for this as Jadeja has not captained any team at any stage of his career. And despite being a part of the established national team since 2009 and being an all-format regularly, the all-rounder has never been a part of the leadership group. So, to say that Chennai has punt with Jadeja would be a huge understatement.

Also read: Mahendra Singh Dhoni gave ‘the baton’ to Jadeja

As reported by this daily, although Jadeja was formally elevated to the throne on Thursday, he has been preparing for the role since at least December. For a franchise that places great emphasis on consistency, that they went with a player who is familiar with their style of operation is not surprising. And that he has left it to the outgoing captain to decide on the successor, it also doesn’t raise eyebrows as everyone knows what kind of authority Dhoni enjoys in Chennai Super Kings.

But all said and done, this is a major punt that the franchise has taken. As was the case in 2012, there is a perception that Jadeja is not really captaincy material. Will he be calm or aggressive like Dhoni, as smart as Virat Kohli in front of you or as smart as Rohit Sharma? Nobody knows this. Because no one saw him captain.

“He is someone who will give space and freedom to the players. He is the kind of player who tries to keep everything simple,” says R Sridhar, who was the fielding coach of the Indian team from 2014-2021. “He has a newfound confidence, especially the way he has transformed himself as a batsman in the last three years, which is worth watching,” he added.

Jadeja has this trait, where he likes to prove others wrong. If everyone wanted him out in the 2009 T20 World Cup against England, then 10 years later, everyone wanted him to go the distance in the 2019 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.

From being called a bits and pieces player, he has become a truly world-class all-rounder, good enough to keep the bench warm to the team’s best spinner in Tests. Being called a spinner, who can only get wickets on dustball, he has been rated as the No. 1 Test bowler in the world.

As he prepares to lead CSK in the IPL, questions remain whether he is the right choice. Over to Jadeja for changing the perception.

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