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CSK need Jadeja and Jadeja needs CSK, now more than ever

Last updated on 30 Mar 2023 | 12:33 PM
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CSK need Jadeja and Jadeja needs CSK, now more than ever

The all-rounder was earmarked to be the successor but that relationship didn’t work out quite well

The 2022 season was an anomaly, never before had Chennai Super Kings needed a situation where they have had to name a permanent captain. Whenever the need arose, they always had MS Dhoni’s trusted deputy, Suresh Raina by his side. But everything changed after the 2021 IPL, when Chennai decided to let go of their Chinna Thala, Raina.

And then there was one, one option that both the management and Dhoni himself had envisioned – Ravindra Jadeja. Everything was there for him to succeed, there was the calming presence of Dhoni whenever a need arose, there was the support of the dressing room, and it was not like he didn’t deserve the title.

But alas, the marriage didn’t work out, there were rumours of a bad rift or a possible divorce even. It was all on the back of speculations fueled by the popularity of Instagram.

Chennai followed Jadeja but the player didn’t follow the franchise. It was like a page straight out of football franchise journalism. The fact that Dhoni came out saying that ‘spoon-feeding’ doesn’t help a captain made things worse.

“Once you become the captain, we have to take care of a lot of things and that also includes your own game,” said MS Dhoni.

That’s exactly where Jadeja failed, his own game let him down. Statistically, there was only one season since his debut where the southpaw had scored less runs – 2018 – when he only amassed 89 runs. But what’s worse, in 2022, Jadeja averaged 19.33 and scored those runs at a strike-rate of 118.37.

It wasn’t a co-incidence that his worst season had coincided with the franchise’s worst season. If anything, the correlation only points at one thing: CSK need Jadeja and Jadeja needs CSK.


Even though Dhoni has returned as a captain, Jadeja’s role in this Chennai setup can’t be more profound. He’s Dhoni’s everything, starting from bowling economic and dry spells, to picking up wickets at crucial junctures, to scoring runs at the death when the team is dead to rights. It isn’t numerically and even metaphorically possible to replace Jadeja with one player.

Jadeja as a player is seldom found. But combine that with the wealth of experience of having played at Chepauk, you now have a player that is more valuable than even the skipper. Four overs of tight-lined spin, colossal power with the bat and a fielder who is more times than not, as quick as flash, you have a serial match-winner.

And, that is something CSK didn’t do a lot last year: win.

What will they need? Jadeja. The Jadeja who can finally prove his worth as a batter. Never has in his career has Jadeja ever had a 300-run season. A lot of that has to be because of the fact that Jadeja has hardly featured in the top four. But there presents a reason for Jadeja to fully fulfil his potential, as a batter.

It is 2023, and by the time this IPL is done, there is an ODI World Cup and then in 2024, there is a T20 World Cup. And in both the tournaments, Jadeja’s value as a batter will be invaluable. Jadeja in the IPL has had a very indifferent time, in seasons where he has played as a finisher, he’s looked like a million dollar, and when he’s walked out against spinners, he’s looked like a toddler trying to find his feet.

There’s a sea of difference between Jadeja vs pace, and Jadeja vs spin. Memory will serve you wrong. You would naturally assume that Jadeja is a beast of a batter. But historically, the left-handed Jadeja has always been a struggling duck against spin.

In 2020, the southpaw had the best-ever season with the bat. In 2021, he had the worst-ever season. Guess which was against pace, and which was spin. The worst is always against spin. Five of Jadeja’s worst batting displays (strike-rate) are all against spin. If you need a season where Jadeja was great against spin, you have to go all the way back to 2014.

Every time the left-hander has stood against spin, he has been on the wrong side of things, with a strike-rate of over 100 only against left-arm orthodox. Numerous times in the past, Dhoni has tried to play Jadeja higher up the order but time and again, the left-hander has not lived up to the expectations, which is one of the biggest reasons why Shivam Dube is at No.4 for CSK.

Given how the next two ICC tournaments will be played on slower surfaces, it is not just CSK but also Jadeja who will have to battle the spin-demons in his head.


What’s common between IPL 2020 and 2022? In both the seasons, CSK finished one but the last. Apart from that, there’s one more similarity. In 2020, Jadeja averaged 53, and in 2022, he averaged 49.6, showing what CSK have really missed.

Jadeja has consistently struggled with the ball, and last season, he only picked up five wickets, and more importantly, left a lot for the others to do – in terms of controlling the innings – making Chennai more vulnerable. But a return to familiar shores in Chennai could be a reason to smile for the left-arm spinner.

It is at Chepauk where Jadeja has picked most of his IPL wickets (19), and has an economy rate of just 7. His average 29.4 is a shade lower than his career average but is a remarkable jump from the 32.9 and 34.9 that he averaged at Wankhede Stadium and Brabourne Stadium respectively. So, a familiar sight of Chepauk will definitely leave Jadeja in a good state.

With Chennai lacking firepower more than ever, they will need the best of Jadeja, both as a batter and bowler. After a lull in 2022, Jadeja will have more answering than questioning when he turns up in Chennai’s bright yellow jersey.

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