Ajay Jadeja Birthday Special: 5 Best Performances By the Indian Royal Prince

Joseph Biswas

Among India’s best fielders and a man with a royal smile, royal connection and royal birth, Ajay Jadeja celebrates his 49th birthday on February 01, 2020 (Saturday). His was a career written of greatness but cut short on account of allegedly fixing matches he had time and again won for India. Born in 1971 in the Nawanagar royal family (now Jamnagar in Gujarat), Jadeja is a relative of Ranjitsinhji and Duleepsinhji after whom the Ranji and Duleep trophies – two premier competitions in Indian domestic circuit – have been named. Jadeja made his international debut in 1992 and represented India in 15 Test matches and 196 ODI matches. On his 49th birthday, take a look at some of his best performances.  Cheteshwar Pujara Birthday Special: Interesting Facts About India's New 'Mr Dependable'.

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Jadeja’s exuberance, athleticism and smart batting as India’s finisher made him indispensable in the Indian ODI team. Off the field, he was a charmer. A young cricketer with a smirk and appealing personality with success written all over him. He wasn’t as prolific as Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin in his early international career nor was he as talented as Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. But Jadeja was a limited batsman, with difficulties against pace and swing, who could kill off attacks and swing matches with street smart batting and quick running between the wickets. Take a look at 5 of Ajay Jadeja’s best performances on his birthday.

45 off 25 Deliveries Against Pakistan in Bengaluru 1996 World Cup

A match best remembered for the Aamer Sohail and Venkatesh Prasad bust-up. Sohail whacked Prasad to the boundary and promised one more. Prasad sent his off-stump flying in the very next delivery and pointed towards the pavilion – Pakistan were going home India won by 39 runs. But let’s recap a little bit. India are playing Pakistan at home in a World Cup quarter-final. Captain Mohammad Azharuddin has won the toss and opted to bat first and India are off to a flier. Navjot Singh Sadhu and Sachin Tendulkar stitch 90 for the opening wicket but the middle order give away starts. India finds itself struggling to scamper past the 250-run mark.

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Out steps Ajay Jadeja. He smashes, runs and steps out to take India past the safe score. Then plunders Pakistan’s main bowler Waqar Younis for 40 runs in 2 overs. Jadeja scored 45 from 25 with 4 boundaries and 2 maximums before also bowling 5 overs for only 19 runs, India won by 39.

3/3 Against England in Sharjah, 1999

If Jadeja was smashing Waqar Younis for fun in Bengaluru, he was spinning England to a defeat at Sharjah. India had posted 222 runs on board and looked likely to defend it until Neil Fairbrother and Andrew Flintoff anchored ship from 4/83 to 155. Flintoff departed with some 60 odd runs needed and Mark Ealham followed him. Jadeja then came bowl his one-off over that a captain – in those days always demanded off a part-timer. England needed run-a-ball with four overs remaining. But Jadeja spun England and miraculously took India home.

Jadeja first removed Robert Croft in his second delivery before having half-centurion Fairbrother caught by wicket-keeper Rahul Dravid in the next. Three balls later Jadeja gate-crashed Darren Gough leaving tottering from 196/6 to 199/9 in the space of six deliveries. He even ran-out Ian Austin in the very next over to end England’s misery and seal India’s win by 20 runs.

119 Against Sri Lanka in Colombo, 1997

Sri Lanka posted 302 on board in the first game of a three-match ODI series with Marvan Atapattu hitting a hundred and Sanath Jayasuriya blasting 73 off 52 deliveries. Four of the five Lankan batsmen that batted hit a fifty or more helping Sri Lanka post a gigantic total on board. In reply, India soon found themselves struggling at 64/4.

India’s middle order of Rahul Dravid and Robin Singh combined for 2 runs in 5 deliveries and it was the half-century opening stand of Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar that helped India cross the 50-run mark before the collapse. But Azharuddin and Jadeja held fort and hit a record 223-run partnership for the fifth wicket to take India close to victory. The visitors eventually lost by 2 runs but Jadeja’s innings of 119 from 121 deliveries with the help of 8 boundaries and a maximum showed the potential this young gun carried. It was his second ODI hundred.

92 Against South Africa in Kochi, 2000

South Africa had won the Test series and India were under pressure. They met again at Kochi for the first ODI and Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs hit centuries to help the visitors post 301 runs on board. Most of India’s bowlers had been plundered for runs Jadeja hadn’t bowled. Then while chasing, India found itself in a spot of bother at 101/4 with their famed top order back in the hut. But out stepped Jadeja.

He first stitched a 79-run partnership with Azharuddin before sharing another 92 with Robin Singh. Jadeja was dismissed with India needing 30 runs from 31 deliveries and Singh stayed put to take India home. But Jadeja’s innings of rescue was the focal point for India’s victory. He scored 92 from 109 deliveries, which comprised of 3 sixes and 8 boundaries and was even declared the Man of the Match.

100 Against Australia in Oval, 1999 World Cup

India finished second in Group A and were facing Australia in their first match of the Super Six at the 1999 World Cup. The soon to be champions batted first and powered by Mark Waugh's inning of 83 helped by vital contributions from other batsmen, Australia posted 282 on board. India were down to 17/4 with Glenn McGrath striking thrice in 6.3 overs to leave India tattering.

Jadeja and Robin Singh then rescued the ship and anchored the chase with a 141 runs partnership But Robin departed with India still needing 44 runs. Jadeja stayed not-out through the innings and scored his final century in International cricket but India lost by 77 runs. Only two Indian batsmen managed to reach double figures that night, Jadeja was one-off them. Happy Birthday Ajay Jadeja!