India v Australia, 3rd Test, Ranchi, 5th day March 20, 2017

Jadeja's deception in pace, length and nature

Ravindra Jadeja doesn't have all the tricks in a bowler's armoury, but he has mastered three facets of spin bowling that make him a weapon in the sub-continent

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'Jadeja stood out among the bowlers' - Kohli

There's a stark difference between wickets taken by a spinner in the first and the second innings, especially on pitches that start reasonably flat on the first day. That's why Lyon's effort in Bengaluru could be considered as the finest bowling performance of this series so far. Similarly, Ravindra Jadeja's six and five-wicket hauls in Bengaluru and Ranchi have raised his stature and increased his credibility. There was a time when his bowling wasn't as consistent, but these two performances will go a long way to dispel that notion.

Ideal Pace

Most Indian pitches start fairly slow, and keep getting slower as the match progresses. While there'll always be footmarks to exploit and the topsoil will get loose, the lack of pace off the surface allows the batsman to adjust and survive. Therefore, it's critical to keep bowling quicker to compensate for the receding response from the pitch. But how easy is it to do that repeatedly for fairly long spells? After a day's play against New Zealand in Kanpur, R Ashwin said that even though it's imperative to bowl quicker, one can bowl only as fast as his optimum pace. If your optimum pace is 85 kmph, you can increase it by a few kmph for a spell or two. When you try to increase it by 10 kmph for a longer duration, you'd compromise on accuracy and end up bowling a lot fuller or a lot shorter. In addition, you'd also get tired too soon.

The pace in the air forms the foundation of Jadeja's success at home. His optimum pace ideal to exploit slow pitches. Jadeja bowls a flatter trajectory and therefore doesn't deceive the batsman in the air with drift or dip. His deception is off the pitch - some turn, some don't and his trajectory creates confusion with picking length. That's why he traps a lot of batsmen on the back foot to the full balls. His pace in the air makes it almost impossible for batsmen to use their feet and the same pace discourages the deployment of the sweep shot, taking away two productive scoring areas.

Ravindra Jadeja's beehive placement to Australia's batsmen © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Ideal Length

Along with pace, Jadeja's biggest strength is his accuracy. His pitch map will always reflect a high concentration of deliveries on one spot that forces the batsman to come on to the front foot. While going over the stumps, length becomes very important, for you must ensure that the batsman doesn't go on to the back foot. The moment he goes over the stumps, the only plausible option to work against him is to use the pads and not offer a shots. Even then, once in a while, you find it tough to negotiate. A lot of non-sub continental batsmen aren't used to playing spin out of the rough, and try to play him with the bat or make the mistake of not covering the stumps. Steven Smith's dismissal was an example of error in judgment - he didn't have a long enough stride - and not covering the stumps.

Ravindra Jadeja's pitch map to Australia's batsmen in the second innings © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Natural Variation

Jadeja used to have a tendency to bowl from the corner of the crease but has used the crease quite nicely recently. Previously, he played only with the angle bringing the ball in. Now, he's maintaining straighter lines and therefore, he's pitching and finishing within the stumps more often. He is also able to turn some and bring some back in without any visible change in his action or wrist position. The balls that turn land partly on the seam and the leather, while the ones that go straight land on the leather. It's not preposterous to assume that even he, like most spinners, isn't certain about the ones that will turn.

Relentlessly bowling at the same pace accurately is hugely responsible for his success but that's what goes against him occasionally. Since his plans are so sacrosanct, he doesn't deviate even when it's needed. While he's picking wickets, he isn't plotting his dismissals by varying the speed, angles and lengths.

Aakash Chopra is the author of three books, the latest of which is The Insider: Decoding the craft of cricket. @cricketaakash

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • god0179873294 on March 22, 2017, 13:35 GMT

    @ESPNFAN59 So sad to see that Many Aus fans here started comparing a legend Starc with an Average batsman like Kohli...Plz dnt humiliate Starc comparing with Kohli...If u wanna compare Guys u should compare with Kohli to our Junior Marsh..... Still our junior marsh ahead of Kohli despite playing only 2 matches in series..... I think Junior Mrsh is far better batsman than him and I m pretty sure Kohli will b replaced by J.Mrsh in any time.... Cricinfo kindly publish it...plz....

  •   cricfan2234409426 on March 22, 2017, 7:22 GMT

    India is just awesomeness...Just couldn't win Ranchi because of grit displayed by two aussie batsman...Great Match..Now go and wound up the series in Dharamshala.

  • Avinash Alva on March 21, 2017, 19:44 GMT

    Jaddu is a class act. Excellent allrounder. He can deliver in all conditions. The more I see Ashwin, its clear he is ineffective when the pitch doesnt help. He can watch Lyon and learn test match bowling. Variation has to be a surprise element without change in action. Hope India can somehow win at Mohali. Kohli has to only remember his WC T20 innings vs Aus.

  • shehry0429131 on March 21, 2017, 12:04 GMT

    @CRKUSHA it as if a few fans forget they last lost in india in 2013 when swann and panesar toured

  • aks0002233760 on March 21, 2017, 10:39 GMT

    @CRICFAN21909279-im sure u had missed point of this article. pitch was still good to bat on, even tho run was not coming easily yet it was not rank turner In age of technology where u can see every single ball or shots over and over to study and practice to find counter of it. every visiting team in India get enough time to prepare for every match, so giving excuse of home soil seems pointless anyway.

  • god0179873294 on March 21, 2017, 9:30 GMT

    If all depends on pitch, then pitch shud be ranked as No. 1 Test bowler, instead of Ashwin.Blame pitch if draw, praise Ashwin if win... Hahaha this is the quality theory of Indian Big Talker Captain Virat kohli and some indian fans as well.... Icc should rethink about their test and players ranking soon.... I m sure India will b trashed by any team unless they will continue to play in their dust beach pitches... They cant win matches in home let alone winning matches in swing,seam,bouncy conditions... Even average team like Bd,Srilanka,pak etc can humiliate this Indian team in any day... So indian fans first of all try to win some matches in Aus,South africa and Eng (forget winning series)....Then Compare with High profiled team Like Aus team....aswhin is exposed already.. Now its some time to expose jaddu which is coming soon in overseas matches... Aus will win the next match with a big margin.....go aussie go!!! Cricinfo kindly publish it...

  • god0179873294 on March 21, 2017, 9:09 GMT

    I really cant understand about khawaja why he has to select him in SC?? Before the series Many of them Try to replace him with young renshaw!!! Look wat a gun renshw is! Then many of them also want to see khawaja ahead of S.Marsh who is a spin specialist player in Aus..Now look He and Handscomb created record partnership.... At moment debacle is now between Khawaja Vs Warner....Warner can destroy any attack single handedly that cant b dne by Uzzi.. Dharmashala obviously suits the Aus as there is still winter and pacers will b far lethal esp hazelwood... Aus can definitely find their home conditions in the next match And that's why many of them predicted a series win already.... I m pretty sure David Warner will make a classy hundred and we will win the match with a big margin.... Aus should play 3 front pacers and lyon (stll injured) should b replaced by Bird..!! cricinfo kindly publish it....

  • Abdul Ghaffar on March 21, 2017, 8:31 GMT

    In my opinion Jadeja should have been a player of the match with 9 wickets and quick 54 runs. True Pujara scored a double centuryand faced the highest number of balls ever faced by an india player. But he consumed too much time. Had he ben a little aggressive and scored quick India could have 4 sessions to get the results in their favour.

  • Shah on March 21, 2017, 3:52 GMT

    Yes but only a below average bowler like Jadeja can perform on a below average pitch with those 3 weapons...NABI is way better than Jadeja

  • Raj on March 21, 2017, 1:37 GMT

    excellent analysis, Thanks.

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