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#TFGtake: Why 'Sir' Ravindra Jadeja's rockstar qualities need to be valued by fans and critics

FROM BEING nicknamed 'rockstar' to becoming India's most trolled cricketer, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has come a long way in his cricketing journey, one that is filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. But one thing remains constant -- his 'never-say-die' attitude.

Almost every Indian cricket fan of this generation remembers how a young Virat Kohli led India to victory in the 2008 U19 Cricket World cup held in Malaysia. Few people know that 20-year old Jadeja was also part of the contingent, taking 10 wickets from 6 games and playing a crucial role in India's win. It was just the beginning. 

The turning point of Jadeja's career was his third Ranji Trophy season for Saurashtra in 2008-09, where he scalped 42 wickets and scored 739 runs and was immediately drafted in the Indian ODI side. But it was his extraordinary performance in the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008 that made selectors sit up and take notice. For his Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne, Jadeja was a 'superstar in the making', and it came across in the first two IPL seasons, where he was a sensation with both, bat and ball.

But as every coin has two sides, Jadeja's tryst with bad form led to a downward spiral in his career, and the left-armer came under immense scrutiny for not delivering the goods at crunch situations. First in 2009, his 35-ball 25 threw India straight out of the World T20, and skipper MS Dhoni publicly apologized for promoting Jadeja over Yuvraj Singh in the Super Eight tie against England. Then in 2010, he got into contractual irregularities with the IPL and had to sit out an entire season. He was eventually dropped from the national side as well.

However, in 2011, when half the India team was struggling with injuries in England, Jadeja was once again called up, and he responded with an all-round performance in the ODI series. It was the return of a much better cricketer, one who was full of confidence.

For the next few years, the seemingly canny left-arm bowler would go on to become IPL's 'million dollar baby' with the Chennai Super Kings (2012), occupy the No.1 bowler's spot in ODI rankings (2013), a feat last achieved by Anil Kumble in 1996; and deliver a historic Test series win against Australia (2013) at home with 24 wickets, justifying his selection in the Test squad against conventional wisdom. Jadeja dismissed then Australian captain Michael Clarke five out of the six times he batted, and Indian fans could not stop raving about him. Such was his impact on Indian cricket that former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar called him a 'role model' for youngsters.

Despite being a game-changer for India on most occasions, Jadeja has had to deal with a lot more than just criticism. The fans have been rather harsh on him. His 2009 World T20 performance sparked a series of online jokes and memes, which further earned him the title of 'Sir'. One bad performance and Jadeja would be at the receiving end of jokes, another good outing and people would compare him to 'Rajnikanth' -- someone who is capable of doing the impossible.

Even his Indian teammates including ODI captain MS Dhoni enjoyed calling him 'Sir Ravindra Jadeja', and the smiling Saurashtra lad has had no qualms whatsoever. In fact, every time he has been pointed a finger at, he comes back harder and stronger to prove his critics wrong. 

When Jadeja became the only Indian to score three triple tons in first-class cricket, critics ridiculed the nature of Indian pitches, taking away all the credit of his hard work. Undeterred, he continued to rise through the ranks with his crafty spin bowling, and his rocket arm that has now made him a valuable player in the Indian team. Perhaps it is his determination to keep doing all the dirty work with little praise that has earned him the respect of his teammates and captain. He may still be far from being a complete all-rounder, especially in the longer format of the game. But the promise he shows every time he’s handed a difficult task speaks volumes of his capability. 

For all the flak he has received for not being more a of batsman, here's a staunch proof of his batting talent: 

Jadeja’s 38 wickets in four games of the 2015-16 Ranji Trophy were enough to fetch him yet another comeback in the Test side for the series against South Africa. His terrific form continued in the 1st Test at Mohali, where he bagged eight wickets and in the only innings of the Bengaluru Test, he grabbed a four-fer. A resurgent Jadeja climbed eight places in the ICC Test Rankings for bowlers, and is now on a career-high 13th spot. 

A spinner’s biggest asset is his ability to spin the ball in ways that batsmen find it hard to comprehend. However, with Jadeja, it is not so much about spin. It is the cunningness in his bowling, the accuracy, and above all, his sky-high confidence. It is a debatable topic, but Jadeja should be a default selection in the Indian team at home, especially if the pitch is a rank turner. His relentless pursuit of getting better with each delivery makes him a must-have in India’s bowling setup.

With Jadeja on the field, you can never rule out a wicket, a run-out, a last-ball six or anything else that appears impossible for other mere mortals.

Here's one of the many examples of how Jaddu can manage a catch, a run-out and a wicket - all in one match!

The ‘Sir Ravindra Jadeja’ jokes will continue, but they won’t get anywhere close to denting his self-confidence and mojo. 

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