Ravindra Jadeja has been a perfect fit for the missing puzzle piece to the Indian cricket team in terms of an all-rounder. Jadeja who is currently at the peak of his career has been ranked as the top bowler and all-rounder in the ICC Test rankings. Over the past couple of years, the Saurashtra southpaw has sealed a berth for himself in the team so much so that he is the first choice over Yuvraj Singh. But the Men in Blue are blessed with another all-rounder much younger than Jadeja and he has proven his talent whenever put to test. Axar Patel is a perfect like-for-like replacement for Ravindra Jadeja. Both Patel and Jadeja are left-handed and bowl slow left arm-orthodox. Interestingly, both possess the ability to hit long and hard with the bat and are superb in the field.
Notably, Jadeja who has not performed at the same level as in the Test format has been a regular starter in the shorter formats. However, with Jadeja now being rested in some of the limited over series, Patel’s talent as a better limited-over player has started surfacing. Jadeja might have the edge over Patel in terms of big hitting and athletic presence in the field but statistics tell a different story altogether. When the bowling records, in both international and domestic matches, are compared has a better record. It is for sure that Axar is nowhere near to Jadeja in terms of experience as the 23-year-old who hails from Gujarat has only played 31 ODIs and 7 T20Is juxtaposed against Jadeja’s 136 ODIs and 40 T20Is.
Needless to say, Patel has shown a lot of potential as a bowler in the short period which suggests that he can be an excellent all rounder in limited-overs.
However, Patel has a far better average, strike rate and economy rate than Jadeja when the statistics are compared. It is not that Axar’s better statistics have been helped by matches played against minnows like West Indies and Zimbabwe. In fact, he has played against all Test playing nations except Pakistan and has been consistent against all those teams as a bowler.
The comparison between the two all rounders, however, won’t be fair for T20I as Jadeja has played 40 matches to Axar’s 7 matches. Moreover, Jadeja has played all his matches against tough opponents whereas Axar played 5 of his matches against Zimbabwe. Still, his spell of 1/17 in his three overs against South Africa at Cuttack in 2015 showed that he is up there to compete against bigger teams as well.
Since Axar doesn’t have as much experience as Jadeja has, an analysis of their overall List A and T20 records will give us more clarity. Their List A record clearly shows how the Gujarat all-rounder edges out India’s premier Test all-rounder in terms of his bowling. Along with the wicket-taking ability, what Axar has is his ability to control the flow of runs and tie the batsmen down.
The cricket fans have often seen Jadeja getting belted for runs and this is visible in his higher bowling average, economy, and strike rate. The reason for this is flat bowling trajectory and predictable length for batsmen.
Meanwhile, the only thing that India would lose out on if Jadeja is rested is his athletic presence in the field. If all-round abilities are considered, Axar Patel definitely appears to be the better limited-overs cricketer than Ravindra Jadeja.