A few eyebrows were raised when Ravindra Jadeja walked in at No. 5 ahead of vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant after India lost their first 3 wickets early on Day 1 of the 4th Test between India and England at the Oval in London on Thursday.
Jadeja joined captain Virat Kohli as the two looked to survive till the Lunch break as England pacers found their rhythm after looking flat in the opening half an hour. The ball was moving in the air and off the pitch and causing a lot of trouble.
After Cheteshwar Pujara edged one against James Anderson for 4, Jadeja walked in to bat while live television visuals showed vice-captain Rahane sitting with his gears at the dressing room.
‘It was more a tactical move’
The move left the cricket fraternity divided even as Rahane and Pant have been struggling for form. While batting great Sunil Gavaskar said there might have been a possibility of Rahane going for a loo break when Pujara’s wicket fell, former England captain Nasser Hussain said he felt it was a tactical move, considering how good Jadeja has batted with the tail so far in the series.
“I don’t know the reason. I heard the debate over whether Ajinkya went to the loo. But Jadeja was ready, so he must have been told. So it was more a tactical move,” Hussain told Sony Sports during Lunch on Day 1.
“They must have wanted a left-hander in. He is a very fine player. He has got 3 triple hundreds in first-class cricket. The balance of the side still looks a little wonky in England.”
Gavaskar pointed out that India might have wanted to demote Rishabh Pant to No. 7 in the 4th Test after his twin failures in the 3rd Test at Headingley where India were handed an innings and 76-run defeat.
“Ajinkya Rahane came in and sat and put on his gloves. He may have been on a toilet break. Maybe they didn’t want to send Pant. Maybe he has been demoted down the order. Jadeja has batted longer in this series than Pant,” Gavaskar said.
“I don’t know the reason. I heard the debate over whether Ajikya went to the loo. But Jadeja was ready, so he must have been told. So it was more a tactical move. They must have wanted a left-hander in. He is a very fine player. He has got 3 triple hundreds in first-class cricket. Balance of the side still looks a little wonky in England,” he added.
Rahane has got a signal after Jadeja’s promotion: Ajay Jadeja
Meanwhile, former India batsman Ajay Jadeja said he felt Jadeja’s promotion might send a negative signal to Rahane, the vice-captain of the team. Rahane’s place in the side has been questioned as the star batsman has not been able to be consistent in the longest format of the game. He has managed just 95 runs in 3 Tests so far in England.
“I am just thinking what Ajinkya Rahane is going through. One of your best batsmen, vice-captain of the side. Even before he has walked in, he has almost got a signal, saying ‘we’re not too sure about you’,” Jadeja said.
“It could be the left-hander combination but I am just thinking in terms of someone who is uncertain with not a lot of runs. Before you walk in, you have got Ravindra walking ahead of you and there will be some time, whenever he walks in he is going to be thinking about it.”
India went into Lunch at 54 for 3 as England pacers were on top once again even as Jadeja and Kohli mad sure there were no further hiccups till the break.