Good decision to play four spinners: Jadeja
Not so long ago Ravindra Jadeja's career hit rock bottom when he was dropped from the Indian ODI and T20 squads. Six months down the line he left many stunned by his selection to India's Test team.
And, on his opening day in Test cricket, he made it count, with a useful contribution with the ball, taking two wickets for 34 as he bowled 25 overs.
Jadeja fits the tag of a limited-overs' specialist perfectly with his ability to make useful contributions with bat and ball. With Team India having lost the second and third Tests he was rushed into the squad for the fourth and final match against England in Nagpur.
Interestingly, the 24-year-old all-rounder from Saurashtra admitted that even he was surprised when told of his selection.
"When I got selected for the Test team I was fielding for my team in the Ranji Trophy and some player from the dressing room came and told me that I was selected. At first, I could not believe what he said and was wondering whether he was joking with me or telling me seriously," said Jadeja, at the end of the first day's play.
"Obviously, for anyone playing cricket in India, it is their dream to play Test cricket. It was also my dream to get the Indian Test cap and do well for the country," he added.
England struggled to 199 for five in 97 overs on a slow wicket, where the uneven bounce kept batsmen guessing.
Kevin Pietersen showed great application in a patient innings of 73 from 188 balls, while Joe Root (31 not out) and Matt Prior (34 not out) rescued the visitors in the post-tea session after England were reeling at 139 for 5 at one stage.
Image: Ravindra Jadeja addresses the media at the end of the first day's play n the fourth Test against England
'We will try and restrict England to around 330-350'
India's gameplan was based on the strategy of drying up the runs and forcing the English batsmen to commit mistakes. For most part of the day, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni resorted to defensive fields and close-in fielders were a rare sight even when the batsman was new to the crease.
Jadeja defended his captain's bizarre tactics, saying the flat nature of the wicket forced them to resort to a tight line and length.
"Actually, the wicket is not turning that much; it is really flat. It is very slow and the fast bowler is also finding it difficult to bowl on it. For a spinner, there is no turn and the bounce is also slow, so we are trying to bowl at the stumps and not let them score easily, because we will also have to score that many when our turn comes to bat next. We are looking to restrict them by bowling a stump-to-stump line," he reasoned.
Jadeja contributed to England's slow run-rate, bowling 133 dot balls out of the 150 deliveries (25 overs) he sent down on Day 1. The hosts bowled a total of 31 maiden overs in a total of 97 they sent down.
The left-hander said the team is looking to restrict England to a total of under 350, which should give them the upper hand in this contest.
"The smaller the total [that England get] it will be better for us. The ball is not turning at the moment, but it will start turning from the second or the third day. So we will try to keep them to a total of around 330-350 mark and nothing more than that.
"We will look to dry up the boundaries so that we can put them under pressure and force them into mistakes. We will put pressure on the new batsmen and not let them settle down easily," he said.
Jadeja also believes it was a good decision to play four spinners and just one pace bowler in the match because it will prove vital in the second innings when the pitch starts turning.
"The wicket is helping neither the fast bowlers nor the spinners. But, as the match progresses, it will help; the spinners will start getting some assistance. For the fast bowler, the ball is going slowly off the surface after pitching. I think it was a good decision to play four spinners, because it will help us in the second innings, also because there will be more footmarks and we can plan our bowling on that," said the left-hander.
Image: Jadeja in action on Day 1 of the fourth Test
'Special feeling to get my Test cap from Tendulkar'
Jadeja got the call-up to the Test team after scoring two triple centuries for Saurashtra recently in the Ranji Trophy. India made few changes to the team after the defeat in the third Test in Kolkata, and Jadeja replacing Yuvraj Singh at No. 6 was one of them.
He was quick to point out that there is a big difference in the standard of cricket in Tests and the Indian domestic circuit.
"There is a big difference between Test cricket and Ranji Trophy, which I also experienced in the field today. In Ranji Trophy, the wickets are result-oriented and it either helps the fast bowlers or the spinners. But, today's wicket, I would say was flat, because it was not helping anyone, neither the fast bowlers or spinners. The quality of batting is also higher in Test cricket as compared to Ranji Trophy," he said.
The left-arm spinner added the Nagpur wicket is better than the one back home in Rajkot, where runs are scored aplenty.
"The Rajkot wicket is always a patta [very flat] wicket. I would say that this wicket is definitely better than the Rajkot wicket; it is not that flat," he said.
He also relived the jubilation of his first wicket in Test cricket -- that of Jonathan Trott, who was bowled after he offered no shot to the incoming delivery.
"I felt very good when I picked my first Test wicket, that of Trott. It was my first Test match and I was feeling very nervous when I saw myself for the first time in the Test whites. It is such a big thing to play Test cricket for India.
"When I was bowling, I was not thinking much --- that I should try this or I should try that. Mahibhai [Dhoni] told me that the wicket is not doing much so we planned and bowled accordingly. I had a few LBW shouts in the first four-five overs that I bowled. When I came after lunch I got one delivery to come in and he left it alone and it hit the stumps," he said.
The all-rounder was delighted to get his Test cap from the great Sachin Tendulkar. Incidentally, Jadeja was just 11 months old when Tendulkar played his first Test for India in November 1989.
"It was special feeling to get my Test cap from Tendulkar, who also presented me with my ODI cap."
Image: Jadeja is congratulated by teammates after dismissing Trott