India in Sri Lanka 2017

The street-smart Kedar Jadhav has been Virat Kohli’s man for a crisis but for how long?

With the 2019 World Cup in mind, the team management need to decide whether the part-time off spinner is good enough to keep Manish Pandey out of the team.

Scene 1, 2017 Champions Trophy semi-final, Birmingham: Mushfiqur Rahim was doing a fine rebuild job for Bangladesh after losing Tamim Iqbal but this was a passage of play where runs didn’t come easily. There were too many dot balls from either end, so he decided to attack the part-timer. There came a full toss, sighted early, but Rahim, in his rush of blood, smashed it straight to Virat Kohli at mid-wicket. The score 179/5 in the 35th over and the Tigers never recovered from that dismissal.

Scene 2, 1st ODI, Dambulla: Upul Tharanga smacked an absolute joke of a full-toss delivered straight up in the air and was easily caught at long on. It was not even a low full delivery that batsmen have difficulty putting away because they need to gain height upon hitting it. This was high enough, almost on the verge of being a waist-high no ball. It was the 33rd over and Sri Lanka were starting to stutter at 166/4 and never really recovered after that horrendous shot from the skipper.


There is a similarity between these two dismissals, and no, it is not about the slow full tosses hurled at the batsmen. In both instances, the part-timer was bowling at a delicate juncture in the opposition’s innings. One-Day International cricket has now been modulated to gain pace after the 30th over – in a bid to maximise the ten overs before an extra fielder is allowed outside the 30-yard circle in the final powerplay.

It is a passage of play wherein India tend to bring on death overs specialist Jasprit Bumrah, but only after their slower bowlers have laid the ground work with a plethora of dot balls. In both instances then, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had been squeezed for runs, coercing them to hit out and dominate proceedings. The part-timer provided that opportunity, and they went for it, only for this move to come crashing down.

This is, quintessentially, the Kedar Jadhav method of bowling, and indeed, taking getting breakthroughs.

The quintessential gully cricket bowler

Ever played gully cricket? Of course you have, and thus you will understand what Jadhav’s bowling persona is all about. He is the bowler who comes on when your opponents want to slip in those extra overs. He is the bowler given an over or two, otherwise he will feed bad, just fielding and running around (as there is a good chance he won’t get to bat). He is the bowler whom you want to hit out of the park six times out of six. And he is the bowler you eventually get out to,instead, trying to do just that.

All-round players are a dime a dozen in gully playgrounds. There are so many of us who have batted, bowled, fielded and kept wickets. Of course, international cricket is not the same, but everything about Jadhav is like a throwback to India’s strong gully-cricket connection. Extrapolate this scenario to ODIs or Twenty20 Internationals, and it is typically gully-mode on for the Men in Blue whenever he is brought on to bowl.

With a largely side-on action, Jadhav is not your regular “spinner”. There is not enough body-turn in his delivery stride to impart variations on the ball. In fact, let one rephrase; he is not even your regular “part-time bowler”. It is perhaps the singular reason why he has been successful in picking up regular wickets – the opposition doesn’t take him seriously enough and looks to target him at every opportunity. If this Indian line-up were batting against him, they would look to do the same.

He isn’t in the Suresh Raina or Yuvraj Singh mould, and that has worked in Jadhav’s favour, oddly enough. In fact, the rise of Jadhav the bowler isn’t incidental. It has risen from the specific need for Indian to deploy part-time options in limited-overs’ cricket in the absence of seasoned part-timers like Yuvraj and Raina. It was with this mindset that former skipper MS Dhoni had first handed Jadhav the ball against New Zealand in Dharamsala in autumn of 2016.

The Jadhav-Pandey trade-off

Jadhav has only bowled in 12 out of 26 ODIs that he has played in. Initially, there was reluctance to increase dependability on him. It was down to the simultaneous inclusion of Hardik Pandya which has meant that India have five full-time bowlers available at all times. However, there is a lack of consistency in this five-pronged attack, and many times 50 overs spread over five bowlers hasn’t proven a creditable enough ploy. The recent Champions Trophy is a keen example, where Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin and even Ravindra Jadeja struggled to finish their quota of overs on different occasions in what was essentially a five-match tournament.

As such, faced with the prospect of a longer-duration World Cup in two years, this lack of consistency from India’s attack underlines the value of “Jadhav the bowler”. Ever since, Kohli looked at him as a regular option in England, his stock in the squad has risen, say, in comparison to someone like Manish Pandey. Jadhav’s primary job is to finish games for India batting at No. 6 (and be an able fielder too). It is something that Pandey can be groomed for, now that KL Rahul is batting at No. 4, but he doesn’t bowl. The fact that none of India’s other top-order batsmen are reliable part-time bowlers helps too.

Yet, the short time Jadhav spent playing in English conditions this past June showed glaring weaknesses in his game in those two aspects – batting and fielding. One school of thought here says that it was his first time playing in England, and thus, like any normal cricketer, he found it tough to adjust. Eventually he will have gained from this experience, and could showcase this learning when the Indian team begins the overseas cycle next year.

It’s time to take a call

The other school of thought says that time is already running out for the Indian think-tank to make a decision on Jadhav as they have started building up to the 2019 ODI World Cup. If they continue to rely on his bowling, in a bid to have more than five bowling options, Kohli risks getting into a comfort zone with Jadhav, like Dhoni did with Raina or Yuvraj. It becomes increasingly tougher to drop such players in the larger interests of the team, and can hurt team composition in the longer run as we have seen in the particular cases of Raina/Yuvraj.

On the one hand, there is someone sitting on the bench who is a full-time batsman and an outstandingly fit fielder. On the other, you have someone who can send down a few overs when things go awry for their five-bowler attack, never mind the other traits. It is a fine balance, pertaining to Jadhav, which Kohli must achieve in the months to come.

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.