The Indian squad selected for the series against Australia, which will be the last international bilateral assignment for the side before the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 in England did not have many surprises. The squad featured most of the core members who have been part of the ODI side for a couple of years. However, the most notable exclusion in the squad was Ravindra Jadeja. The Saurashtra all-rounder, who was an integral part of the Indian cricket team until 2017, is now on the sidelines and his exclusion is a potential sign that his ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 hopes are almost over. Jadeja’s exclusion is sign of the problem of plenty that is currently in the Indian set-up.
The current line-up of the Indian cricket team makes it very hard for Jadeja to come back. Firstly, where will you slot him and in what position? Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli select themselves. The Indian skipper and the team management have favoured Ambati Rayudu as their preferred choice at No.4. MS Dhoni is at No.5 while Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav provide the right balance with both bat and ball at No.6 and No.7. To compound Jadeja’s matters, Kohli has already established Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal as the core spinners who will be backed up by the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.
The problem with Jadeja’s inclusion is plenty. With so many players performing well and with the bowling all-rounders slot filled by Hardik Pandya and Jadhav, what will Jadeja offer? Ever since the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in which both Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin proved to be expensive, Kohli has preferred to look beyond the duo in limited-overs cricket at least. Ever since the end of the Champions Trophy till the end of the Wellington ODI in 2019, Kuldeep and Chahal have taken 77 and 65 wickets respectively. On the other hand, Jadeja has taken just 16 wickets at an average economy rate of 4.88.
With the spinners performing so well, Jadeja will have to do something special with the bat. However, in 2017 and 2018, Jadeja has averaged just 16.25 and 22.66 respectively. One must remember that with the Indian top order performing so well, the opportunities for Jadeja to bat were not much.
Jadeja’s chances are not only slim in the playing XI, his chances of featuring in the 15-man squad for the World Cup is also slim. The likes of Vijay Shankar, Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant have also played a major role in India’s victories in the past couple of years. The only chance for Jadeja could be if Karthik is not picked for the World Cup.
India might be tempted to include Jadeja primarily due to his experience in major ICC tournaments and also in England. In the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, Jadeja’s exploits with the ball was the major reason behind the team’s success. In 17 ODIs in England, he has taken 27 wickets at an average of 27, which is his best overseas. Even with the bat, Jadeja has had good success in England with an average of 70 and a strike-rate of 108.
However, for the moment, it seems Kohli is not going by past records and is clearly determined to go the 2019 World Cup with the present core. If the selection for the Australia series is any indication, Jadeja’s chances of playing in the XI is virtually non-existent and his inclusion in the 15-man squad is very thin.