Kedar Jadhav is blessed with remarkable temperament and a rare ability to exquisitely time his strokes. These qualities almost make up for his lack of power.
Sadly, despite his commendable show against England in the third and final ODI of their ongoing tour, he could not fetch the desired win because the shorter form of the game these days is designed to favour brute power. In fact, power is a prerequisite for winning matches, particularly the close ones, and barring Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli, this sort of power hitting is beyond the current crop of Indian batsmen.
There was a period, between the 30th and 40th overs – when only four fielders are permitted beyond the inner circle – which the Indian team should have really capitalised. Instead, it was England skipper Eoin Morgan, who seized the opportunity to push through the overs of off-spinner Moeen Ali, way-ward paceman Ben Stokes and the scarcely effective Chris Woakes. This was a bonus after the team lost frontline paceman David Willey to a shoulder injury early in the innings.
Jadhav and Hardik Pandya should have really pressed on during this period but try as they did, India added a mere 63 runs during this crucial phase and thus narrowed down their chances of victory.
That they lost the ODI by only 5 runs was as much owing to the late assault of Pandya (56 of 43 balls, four fours, two sixes), Jadhav (90 of 75 balls, 12 fours, one six) and Jadeja (10 of 6 balls, two fours) as it was to the heavy dew which lowered the efficiency of the bowlers.
During those crucial overs, England kept a check on Jadhav’s scoring by putting a four-man field between point and third man. This included two men guarding the fence and two within the circle in that arc. This bottled up what would otherwise have been a superb scoring rate. Jadhav has proved in this series that he is a wonderful batsman, who does what he does wonderfully well. It is when he is expected to uncharacteristically bludgeon the ball that he falls short.
India had the advantage of batting second, when they could pace their innings, capitalise on the dew-soaked outfield – hence a wet ball – and benefit from the injury to Willey. That they couldn’t do so is credit to the England bowlers, who made the best of the pitch.
There was plenty of seam movement to be had right through the day on this Eden Gardens pitch, which had a fair amount of grass. On occasions the tall English bowlers got awkward, discomforting bounce off a length. But Kohli (55), Yuvraj (45) and Dhoni (25) weathered it before the current and previous skippers were both done in while chasing wider deliveries which bounced a bit more than expected.
Pandya, who had bowled an excellent spell earlier (3 for 49 from 10), went through a hit and miss period while batting. Importantly neither he nor Jadhav got out cheaply. Their 104-run partnership in 83 deliveries gave the team a whiff of a chance and brought it to the threshold of what would have been a memorable victory.
There were some streaky strokes for sure – they needed that kind of luck to chase such a huge target on this sort of pitch – but both showed impressive self-belief and intent to get to the target themselves. In their quest for power, they might not have held the ‘shape’ while attempting some strokes, but they certainly put up a brave fight, limitations notwithstanding.
Every now and then, Jadhav’s superb timing of strokes sent the ball racing to the fence. In fact, the first two balls of the final over which he creamed for a six and a four were telling commentaries on his ability to really time the ball.
But in the end it proved inadequate and allowed England to notch up a consolation win in the three-match series they lost 2-1.
Earlier, sent in to bat, England’s top order Jason Roy (65), Sam Billings (35), Jonny Bairstow (56) and Morgan (43) all got runs on a pitch where the Indian pacers, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Pandya and Jaspreet Bumrah beat the bat on numerable occasions with late swing or darting seam movement.
They hung on gamely before a late assault by Stokes (57 not out, 39 balls, four fours, two sixes) and Woakes (34 of 19 balls, four fours, one six) helped add 58 runs in the final five overs and took the team to a challenging total of 321.
At that time, given the threat of dew later in the evening, the total did not seem enough against the impressive Indian batting line-up. But England had done their homework well. They had fielders in the right spots to limit the scoring opportunities for Yuvraj, Jadhav, Pandya and Jadeja. Additionally, the bowlers dug deep into their reserves to make the efforts of the batsmen and fielders count.
Jadhav and Pandya did India proud. But in the end that was not enough.
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Updated Date: Jan 23, 2017 09:00:30 IST