There’s been drama between Ravindra Jadeja and the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) management before. In 2022, Jadeja removed all posts related to the team from his Instagram account. And the team, in turn, responded by unfollowing him. The activity set the rumour mill abuzz but it seemed to die down quickly enough after that.
Now, in 2023, something seems to be brewing again. Reports have emerged of a potential rift between MS Dhoni and Jadeja, two players who have shared a close bond over the years. The talk stems largely from an incident during CSK’s convincing win over Delhi Capitals on May 20, in which captain Dhoni was seen having a heated conversation with all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.
A day later, Jadeja took to Twitter and quote tweeted an image that read ‘Karma will get back at you, sooner or later it surely will’ saying “Definitely” along with a thumbs-up emoji.
Jadeja’s wife, Rivaba, later retweeted her husband’s tweet and added: “Follow your own path…”
After his all-round show against Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 1, he was handed out the sponsor’s award for being the most valuable player. “Upstox knows but…some fans don’t,” he tweeted.
All of this may be nothing but for now, it has painted the image of a player who is not very happy. But an angry Jadeja usually finds a way to deliver on the field — Team India knows that and so do CSK.
CSK’s path to the final has been smooth even though their captain is now ageing and limping. Ruturaj Gaikwad has delivered the goods at the top of the order. Ajinkya Rahane and Shivam Dube have given them a middle-order boost. Dhoni has provided the finishing touch. Matheesha Pathirana and Maheesh Theekshana have gifted them an unorthodox charm. Tushar Deshpande has chipped in with wickets but the man who is seemingly everywhere is Jadeja.
This season, he has scored 179 runs and taken 19 wickets. His fielding is still unparalleled, and his array of skills is just what CSK need. The batting has been on a consistent upswing for the last few years but his bowling, in T20s especially, wasn’t considered to be his strongest suit. But he clearly has made changes to take wickets all through the season.
The last time he had as many wickets (19) in a season was back in 2014, but he was a lot more expensive (ER 8.15) in comparison to this year (ER 7.42). This year, his bowling strike rate (16.74) is his best-ever.
These numbers, aligned with his improved record bowling to left-handers, have meant that Dhoni no longer has to shield him against them. As a result, Jadeja has done more bowling (3.3 overs per match) than ever before.
When the ball begins to grip off the surface, that’s when Jadeja is at his most dangerous. But he is also finding a nice balance on pitches that are better for batting. On such tracks, he helps build pressure with his tight and sharp bowling.
“For us, a very important phase is the middle phase. We don’t talk a lot to our spinners because they are so individual. We can’t compare Theekshana to Moeen to Jaddu to Santner,” Eric Simons, CSK bowling coach, told their website. “We have a lot more individual conversations, on the lines of what we are looking for and agree on all the time.”
Jadeja knows exactly when to give it a rip and when to push it through. The ability to read match situations counts as one of Dhoni’s strengths, and now Jadeja too seems to be extremely astute in this regard.
His understanding has often allowed him to find answers to CSK’s problems, but perhaps CSK too need to find ways to keep him in a happy space.