Jadeja aims to utilise limited chances

India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja smashed his maiden Test hundred in the first Test against Windies in Rajkot on Friday. He also picked up a wicket and ran out Shimron Hetmyer.

Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli (right) celebrate the dismissal of Sunil Ambris in Rajkot on Friday.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

 

Ravindra Jadeja loves swinging the sword, albeit with the willow. And playing at home — at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium — he got a chance to let the willow do the talking on Friday, as he slammed his first-ever international century.

This came after spending nine long years at the international level, and featuring in 38 Tests, 140 ODIs and 40 T20s. But the 29-year-old all-rounder is happy that it has finally come. “Scoring a century is always special because it is my first Test hundred. In the past I had gotten out on 80s or 90s, it was terrible at that time. But this was definitely satisfying to score a ton at home ground,” Jadeja said.

By his own admission, it was a ‘special day’ for him. But then, it was not easy to get things in the stride. Jadeja’s career in all three formats haven’t quite panned out the way he would have wanted. But then, he is happy to have been able to utilise every opportunity. “When you are not consistently featuring in the playing eleven and suddenly, you get a chance, there is some pressure on you to utilise the chance that has come your way. In England too, I had the same zeal that I have got one match and I need to perform well. I am lucky that I could perform well both with the bat and the ball. After that, in Asia Cup too, I could do well,” he added.

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So, slowly, he is trying to develop his game. “In 2018, I have only got five matches and in those chances, you need to perform. You don’t have time to think too much. Luckily, in one-dayers and the last Test, I could perform well. I am overall, happy,” he said.

Though Rajkot provided Jadeja happiness, things could have gone otherwise. India was relying on tail-enders — Umesh Yadav and then Mohammed Shami, when Jadeja was still some 15-20 runs away from the magic figure. Things could have changed had someone in the non-striker’s end departed. But luckily for Jadeja, that did not happen. “I was talking to myself that I don’t want to play loose shot or a wrong shot. I spoke to Shami and Umesh till I scored 100. Today, I was very calm and I was not thinking about runs and wanted to play till the last ball,” he said.

But then, how does it feel when a seasoned campaigner goes in and out of the team, despite playing for nearly a decade. “May be, I have done something good that’s why I have been playing for 10 (actually, nine) years. The fact is that in the 2016-17 season, I performed well, the records will speak for itself. But it is about a balance in the team. If there are too many lefties in a team, then off-spinners are preferred. But if there are right-handed batsmen in a team, I get a chance. It is up to the team management to decide. My target is always to raise my game and I don’t have anyone to prove. It’s just that you should be satisfied,” he said.

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He also dedicates the ton to his late mother. “She always hoped to see me playing for India. This is special for me and I could not gift anything better than this,” he said.

While Jadeja is not sure about the strengths and the combinations of West Indies, he believes that with time the ‘inexperienced’ side will improve in all departments.

Most of the stands remained empty as the local boy reached his milestone. Jadeja, however, is not willing to think too much about it. “It doesn’t matter. Rajkot is not a small town anymore. People are crazy about cricket. They come and watch cricket regularly like the IPL, ODI, T20. May be, people could not come today because of extreme weather conditions. It is extremely hot here and not many are used to it. May be, that’s a reason why they did not come,” Jadeja reasoned.

But scoring a Test hundred at home is special.