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IPL 2022: Curious case of Ravindra Jadeja; Is it the end of the road for him in yellow?

Ravindra Jadeja's poor run as CSK captain, substandard IPL 2022 with bat and ball, rib injury and CSK unfollowing Ravindra Jadeja on Instagram are these indicating the end of road for Jadeja in yellow?

TATA IPL 2022_ Ravindra Jadeja stepped down from CSK's captaincy in the middle of the IPL 2022 and handed over to MS Dhoni _ Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI_IPL)
Jadeja stepped down from CSK's captaincy in the middle of the IPL 2022 (Images ©BCCI/IPL)

The defending champions, Chennai Super Kings (CSK), have already been knocked out of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022. It is the second time in the last three years that the Yellow Army have been knocked out before the playoffs, after their dismal batting performance (97) against Mumbai Indians (MI) at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on May 12.

Ravindra Jadeja was raising higher and higher

But more than their collective performance in the 15th season of the tournament, the most curious case has been of their star performer, Ravindra Jadeja, who throughout this season has seen highs and lows together.

Jadeja made a decent contribution of 227 runs at a strike rate of 145.51 and 13 wickets at an economy of 7.06, to help CSK lift the trophy in IPL 2021. A couple of weeks before this IPL, Jadeja had reached the summit of ICC’s Test all-rounder rankings while over the last two editions of IPL, he has slowly started to to take the finishing job from MS Dhoni with 459 runs at a strike rate of 157.73.

Captaincy pressure burns out Jadeja’s diamond form

Just a few days before the tournament opener, Ravindra Jadeja was handed the captaincy duties of Chennai, given his bucketful experience along with his rich progress as a game-changer for last few years, even after not having much captaincy experience in the past. It did take some time for the fans to connect with the news.

In his debut game as captain, Jadeja strained a tough unbeaten 26 off 28 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and looked in awful touch, hitting hardly any ball from the middle of his blade. His first win as the leader of the Whistle Podu Army came against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) but the burden of captaincy on his shoulders seemed to burn him out as a player.

In IPL 2022, the left-hander scored just 119 runs in eleven innings, including two ducks, at a paltry average of 19.33 and a median strike rate of 118.36. Even with ball in hand, Jadeja took just five wickets in 33 overs and to add more salt to the wounds, the best fielder of CSK has also dropped four catches, which is almost unimaginable.

TATA IPL 2022_ Ravindra Jadeja scored 119 runs from 10 games at 19.33 before ruled out of IPL 2022 due to injury _ Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI_IPL)
Jadeja scored 119 runs from 10 games at 19.33 before ruled out of IPL 2022 (Images ©BCCI/IPL)

Jadeja as skipper ‘looked a fish out of water”: Ravi Shastri

Some players love the leadership role as they end up anchoring the game at their own pace, while making decisions on their own and taking responsibilities but in the case of Jadeja, most of the selections on and off the field, seemed to have been done by MS Dhoni.

The fact that he had just led the Under-19 India team 15 years back, put an extra weight on him to carry a senior side with several big names. Looking at his condition, the former India head coach, Ravi Shastri, has said that Jadeja appears as a “fish out of water”.

“He is not a natural captain, he hasn’t captained at any level. So, to give him the responsibility I thought was little hard on Jadeja,” Shastri said in ESPNCricinfo’s T20 Time Out show.

Shastri went on to stretch his thought on how painful the decision of appointing Jadeja became for Chennai. “So let him just focus on his cricket; that (decision of giving him captaincy duties) cost CSK a few games early on.”

Ravindra Jadeja gave up captaincy midway

Before Chennai Super King’s ninth game in the season against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), news broke out that Ravindra Jadeja had given the leadership duties back to MS Dhoni in a mutual arrangement, with the former expressing his desire of focusing fully on his game in all the three departments.

“The team management has conveyed this to us and we have accepted,” CSK CEO Kasi Viswanathan told Cricbuzz.

MS Dhoni believes captaincy spoiled Jadeja’s form

Chennai went on to win that game against SRH under MS Dhoni who in the post-match presentation ceremony informed how leadership part spoilt Jadeja’s form.

“What’s important is once you become the captain, you have to take care of many things. And that also includes taking care of your own game; and with him (Jadeja), his mind was working a lot.”

Dhoni also said that Jadeja knew that he would be given captaincy duties since last year and went on to agree on how the added pressure impacted Ravindra Jadeja, the player. “When he was going in to bat, or when it comes to his preparation, this (extra) burden was affecting his game. Even if you relieve captaincy, and if he is at his best, that’s what we really want because we were also losing a great fielder.”

Jadeja got ruled out of the season with rib injury

The very next game against Royal Challengers Bangalore saw Jadeja, in an attempt to take a running catch from the deep, sustaining an injury. Even tough he continued to take part in the game, he sat out CSK’s next game against Delhi Capitals.

Few days earlier, another news broke out that Ravindra Jadeja had been ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a rib injury. According to a CSK official, Jadeja was feeling pain in his rib while batting and bowling, which was why the franchise decided to send him back home.

Generally, broken ribs take about six weeks to heal but the patient may have difficulty in walking during that period. Looking at Jadeja’s condition and how things went for him this season, it did raise a few eyebrows.

TATA IPL 2022: Is it the end of the road for Ravindra Jadeja in Chennai Super Kings (CSK)? Jadeja ruled out of IPL 2022 | Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI/IPL)
Jadeja had a very poor IPL 2022 with bat and ball for CSK (Images ©BCCI/IPL)

Is there any internal tussle going between Jadeja and the franchise?

It might not seem to be a strong reason but in all the cases of damaged relationships between players and the franchises, the social media does take a vital place.

CSK’s Instagram handle unfollowed Ravindra Jadeja, who himself did the same with the yellow franchise. Now, it might look a very smooth thing to a few who are not much associated with the social media platforms, but the past incidents had given us several examples of growing rifts.

“What I can tell you is that from the management side, there has been no problem and whatever is there on social media, I’m not aware,” CSK CEO Viswanathan escaped from the reports in an interview to “The Daily”.

“Jadeja firmly remains in CSK’s scheme of things for the future, always.”

Brief Blueprint of all the incidents concerning Jadeja and CSK

A closer look at the puzzle might end up painting a picture which is never going to make the “Whistle Podu Army” happy if there is a rift between their team and star performer, Ravindra Jadeja. He is still expected to become one of the vital members of the side in the future.

But of late, the incidents which happened don’t paint a great picture as far as the India all-rounder and CSK go. After being given the job of captaincy, he seemed to have been forced to be removed from the position and then his lack of form with this new rib injury news has seen him getting back home in the middle of the tournament.

Therefore, it sounds like there is a damaged relationship between Jadeja and CSK. Have we seen the last of Ravindra Jadeja in the yellow shirt? A curious case has grown up for sure.

Chennai Super Kings, who have been knocked out of the tournament, will play their last game against Rajasthan Royals (RR) on May 20 at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.

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