Ravindra Jadeja is certainly good enough as a specialist batsman in Test cricket but it is his pure all-round skills that gives the Indian team much-needed balance in the traditional format, feels head coach Ravi Shastri.
Jadeja's contribution in India's eight-wicket victory against Australia at the MCG on Tuesday can't be ignored as he scored an important half-century, picked three wickets and also took two catches in his 50th Test.
Asked if India could look at Jadeja as a pure batsman, Shastri said: "He is a genuine all-rounder and that's why he bats where he is. He can bat at No.6 or even No.5, on given occasions but is a genuine all-rounder. That's why he lends a lot of balance to the side."
For someone who has 216 Test wickets apart from 1926 runs, Jadeja's restrictive left-arm spin and ability to quickly get through his overs gives respite to the team's fast bowlers.
"Also, when we play overseas, there is a chance of one of the (fast) bowlers getting injured. You saw with Umesh (Yadav)," said Shastri, referring to the bowler, who is set to miss the next Test due to a calf muscle injury.
"With Jadeja, you get that balance and also the fast bowlers get a respite with both Jaddu and Ash (Ravichandran Ashwin) bowling."
Jadeja on Tuesday expressed gratitude after becoming the third Indian cricketer to feature in 50 or more games for the country across all three formats -- Tests, ODIs and T20Is.
Jadeja joined Indian captain Virat Kohli and former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the elite club.
The all-rounder, who has played 50 Tests, 168 ODIs, and 50 T20Is, thanked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the support staff for always backing him.
"It's a great honour to join Mahi Bhai (Dhoni) and Virat as the only others to have played 50 games across all 3 formats for India. A big thank you to the BCCI, my team mates, the brilliant support staff for showing faith in me and for always backing me. Onwards and upwards. Jai Hind," Jadeja tweeted.
Former skipper Dhoni, who made his debut in 2004, had featured in 90 Tests, 350 ODIs, and 98 T20Is for India. On the other hand, Kohli has played 87 Tests, 251 ODIs, and 85 T20Is for the Men in Blue.
Jadeja hit his 15th fifty in the longest format of the game on Monday in the Boxing Day Test against Australia. The all-rounder's half-century and skipper Ajinkya Rahane's 12th ton had given India firm control on the game.
Riding on the back of the confidence from day three, India first dismissed Australia for 200 on the fourth morning and then came back to chase the target of 70 in just 15.5 overs.
If one session had cost India the first Test, it was again a session -- which Rahane and Jadeja weathered on the second day of the second Test -- that saw India bag the second game. The win also ensured India moved a step closer to the final of the World Test Championship.