New Delhi: Fans heaped praise Thursday on Ravindra Jadeja after the "bits and pieces" cricketer emerged as the unlikely hero of a losing cause, silencing critics who had questioned his place in the star-packed Indian team.
The all-rounder top-scored with 77 to take India tantalisingly close to a win in their World Cup semi-final against New Zealand on Wednesday as they chased a modest 240.
Although India fell 18 runs short, Jadeja earned the respect of fans for his lion-hearted effort in the high-stakes clash.
"Jadeja showed his worth," tweeted one user while another said his innings would be "remembered for a long time to come" for its sheer grit and tenacity.
Jadeja, 30, thanked fans for their support, promising to continue giving his best "till my last breath".
"Sports has taught me to keep on rising after every fall & never to give up," he tweeted.
Sports has taught me to keep on rising after every fall & never to give up. Can’t thank enough each & every fan who has been my source of inspiration. Thank you for all your support. Keep inspiring & I will give my best till my last breath. Love you all pic.twitter.com/5kRGy6Tc0o— Ravindrasinh jadeja (@imjadeja) July 11, 2019
Jadeja seemed all fired up when he walked out to bat Wednesday after being written off as a "bits and pieces" player by Sanjay Manjrekar, a commentator and former India batsman.
When he reached his half-century, the 11th of his career, Jadeja twirled his bat like a sword -- his trademark celebration -- and appeared to gesture towards the media box where Manjrekar is usually seated.
Jadeja also impressed with his bowling, giving away just 34 runs while taking one wicket from 10 overs.
"@sanjaymanjrekar got Jadeja's juices flowing! I am certain it had a positive effect on his game. Sometimes a kick on one's ego can have a positive impact," tweeted India's Olympic shooting medallist Abhinav Bindra.
. @sanjaymanjrekar got Jadeja’s juices flowing ! I am certain it had a positive effect on his game. Sometimes a kick on ones ego can have a positive impact. #psychology#athletes— Abhinav Bindra OLY (@Abhinav_Bindra) July 11, 2019
After being ignored for India's initial matches, Jadeja showed his worth as a substitute in the match against England, scooping a brilliant diving catch to dismiss Jason Roy.
Manjrekar was forced to eat his words soon after play ended Wednesday.
"By bits 'n' pieces of sheer brilliance, he's ripped me apart on all fronts," Manjrekar conceded.
"By bits 'n' pieces of sheer brilliance, he's ripped me apart on all fronts."@sanjaymanjrekar has something to say to @imjadeja after the all-rounder's fantastic performance against New Zealand.#INDvNZ | #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/i96h5bJWpE— ICC (@ICC) July 10, 2019
"This is the Jadeja we haven't seen before. Today he was brilliant."