Jadeja aims to trip high-flying Punjab
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On arriving at the PCA Stadium here, the first enquiry Ravindra Jadeja made was about the nature of the wicket. He sought out Punjab pacer Siddharth Kaul, a teammate of his from the 2008 World Cup-winning Under-19 squad, and took his opinion about the strip on which this match will be played. Jadeja's keenness to ascertain that conditions was beyond a matter of routine.
Punjab on this very wicket recorded two innings victories in the first two rounds and at the beginning of the fourth are well on course to make the knock outs. Saurashtra are second in this group but lag behind with just six points. Jadeja's all-round show has been the highlight of their campaign.
The 23-year-old Jadeja has hit two centuries this season, including a triple century and has taken 13 wickets with his left-arm spin. If there is one player in the Saurashtra line-up who can put a dent in Punjab's dominance at home this season it is Jadeja.
An unbeaten 303 against Gujarat in the second round made Jadeja only the third batsman to hit two triple centuries in the Ranji Trophy. He joined an elite club, the other members of it being VVS Laxman and Wasim Jaffer, but the knock is only but a small step in regaining a foothold among fringe players hoping to make a comeback to the Indian team.
For someone who gets a pay cheque of over $2 million in the Indian Premier League, Jadeja hasn't been able to cash in on the opportunities at the international level — 58 ODIs and 12 T20 Internationals. A pub brawl in the West Indies, a one-year ban for negotiating with an IPL team when he still had a contract with the existing one and a loss of form, which saw him miss the cut for the World Cup squad, have seen Jadeja's stock fall.
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