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Sir Ravindra Jadeja, take a bow

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To troll public figures or, celebrities if you like, is an obsession that has consumed the masses for long. Sometimes it is out of curiosity, but more often than not, it is a byproduct of the lack of self-awareness. A social-media tool like Twitter has only made the pastime even more engaging. However, logic, philosophy and morality aside, when the figure in question gets trolled within his first circle, you cannot help but see the funny side of it. After all, bonding has many shapes and one of them is banter. If you are a cricket lover and are a bit digital-world savvy, then you very well know where this piece is heading. Towards ‘Sir’ Ravindra Jadeja.

On Saturday evening (April 13) when Chennai Super Kings needed two runs off the last ball of Rudra Pratap Singh’s last over of the match to win against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Jadeja was on strike and the tension was palpable at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

On Twitter, the mood was different. ‘Sir’ Jadeja was trolling and the possibilities of him pulling off a miracle outweighed the prospects of a Bangalore win. And as if playing to the script, Jadeja edged the ball straight to Ravi Rampaul at third man. Bangalore were thrilled only to see Anil Chaudhary, the umpire, signaling a no-ball. Amidst confusion, drama, ecstasy and disappointment, Chennai romped home by four wickets with a ball to spare. Jadeja remained unbeaten on 38 off 20 balls, including three fours and a six.

Hours later, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Chennai captain, tweeted, “When you give Sir Ravindra Jadeja one ball to get 2 runs, he will win it with one ball to spare!!” It was the latest of a series of tweets on Jadeja from the Chennai camp that started populating the social-media space from April 9 onwards.

Not long ago, Jadeja had retaliated with some stern ‘direct messages’ to fans who were trolling him. But this banter from the Chennai players has had no such repercussions. “I think it is a joke and we are enjoying,” he said. “Nothing serious in the matter.”

Asked if he is actually the miracle man that the media and his fans have made out of him, he played down the hype. “I don’t think I am a great man. I just want to be what I am right now. I am not seriously thinking about the title ‘Sir’ and all that. It’s okay as everybody is enjoying in the team.”

Stephen Fleming, the Chennai coach, had said in jest on match-ever that all this was “none of his doing”. Fleming had also praised Jadeja for the way he had handled the banter. “It is a good sign, particularly the way Jadeja has taken it. It has caused a lot of hell in the past, not at the expense of he not enjoying it,” he said. “The Indian players who are his peers at the moment have great banter themselves. If he can take it, and they can give it, then it is quite funny.”

When Jadeja hit two triple centuries in the Ranji Trophy this season, he was immediately tagged an allrounder. While most of it was filled with sarcasm, Jadeja has seen the positive side. “Yes, I think when everyone tags me as an allrounder, then it is not for nothing that they call me so. I have done something in domestic cricket that others have not done.”

The confidence can be sensed in his tone. “I have the belief now that I can do it. I will always try to win my teams more percentage of matches in such situations.”

The root of the tirade against Jadeja traces back to the crucial game against England in the ICC World Twenty20 in London in 2009. His failure to hit big shots led to India losing the match by three runs and effectively bowing out of the tournament.

However, a lot has changed since. He is one of the most expensive players in the IPL and has added a new layer to his game – the ability to strike boundaries. Asked how he had worked on it, he looked at the funny side of it. “I am eating a lot these days,” he said.

“If you are playing for India or your franchise in IPL it doesn’t matter, irrespective of how many matches you have played the pressure is always there. No. 7 is a very difficult position to play in,” he added. “I try to back myself and take the game to the last over and take the team to victory. It is that like earlier I was not able to hit and now I am able to hit. I have not become fat, though.”

–Wisden India

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