And so the polarizer that is Ravindra Jadeja continues to trend on Twitter, but of late increasingly for all the good reasons. After taking up plenty of characters on the micro-blogging site over the last fortnight, the man known in the Twitterverse by the hash tag #SirJadeja can afford himself a big beaming smile after his heroics against defending IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders in game one of Saturday's double bill.
In fact, such was his performance that Jadeja proved the difference between victory and defeat for Chennai Super Kings at Eden Gardens. With the ball he collected the best figures for either team - 3 for 20 in four overs - and then slammed an unbeaten 36 off 14 balls to steer CSK home to a thrilling four-wicket win over KKR. There was also a crucial catch from Jadeja, running back from square leg to hold a mistimed stroke from Kolkata's dangerman Eoin Morgan.
A target of 120 should have been easier for Chennai than it eventually turned out to be. MS Dhoni's bizarre decision to promote R Ashwin to open the innings with Michael Hussey proved a flop and changed the complexion of how CSK usually operate in a chase. With Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina and S Badrinath flopping, and the normally reliable Hussey eating up 51 balls for his 40, a chase that began with an asking rate of six had almost reached ten when Jadeja walked to the middle in the 16th over.
After a calm single first ball, Jadeja charged at L Balaji on the first ball of the 17th over and got a towering straight six. Hussey departed on the fifth ball but Jadeja swung the sixth for six. Sunil Narine was also hit for maximum in the next over, and then Jadeja hit his third six to seal victory for CSK with five balls remaining.
That ballistic innings - he scored at a strike-rate of 257.14 - was Jadeja's second match-winning hand with the bat. On April 15, he made an unbeaten 38 off 20 balls (strike-rate of 190) as Chennai got the better of Royal Challengers Bangalore in a last-over thriller. Jadeja now has 117 runs at an average of 58.50 and strike-rate of 174.62 in IPL 6 to go with six wickets at an economy rate of 6.45.
"It was crucial for us to win this game. There was not enough time to think when I went in, I decided to see it and hit it. I tried to bowl slower in the air, which worked. I played few good shots for my team," said Jadeja after the match.
His captain had this to say: "We want him to be really comfortable in the dressing room. He is loving the part where we are calling him Sir, but it is the one from Hindi [meaning head] and not from English. I don't think he knows that."
Know it or not, the man picked up for $2 million at the 2012 IPL auction is enjoying a good run this season. If he keeps it up, the critics should back down and that #SirJadeja hash tag will continue to grow in popularity.
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