When V.A. Jagadeesh walked out to bat at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata last Wednesday, Kerala’s Ranji Trophy match against Bengal was pretty much in the balance.
After bowling out the host for 147, the team was 114 for five in conditions ideal for the Mohammed Shami-led pace attack.
A season ago, not many would have expected Jagadeesh to come out at No. 6. He has been an opener for most of his life.
To be more precise, you could say not many would have expected him to bat for Kerala this season at all. He had been dropped after 2016-17 season and he wasn’t getting any younger.
After missing out an entire season, Jagadeesh has made his comeback count, at the age of 35. He scored three fifties in the five innings in the Vijay Hazare tournament in New Delhi and justified the selectors’ faith in him. His other scores were 28 and 41.
Then in his first Ranji match on return, he made an unbeaten 113 against Hyderabad, batting at No. 6 and was named Man-of-the-Match. He could not have celebrated his return in a more emphatic fashion.
Little could he have imagined that bigger things were in store for him in Kolkata. It was his 119-run partnership with Jalaj Saxena that put the match beyond Bengal in Kolkata.
He scored only 39, but it was the support he gave his partner that mattered more. “I felt so happy to be part of what has been one of the greatest victories for Kerala since I made my Ranji Trophy debut in 2004,” Jagadeesh said.
“Though I was out of the team for a year, I knew that I could make a comeback. I wasn’t bothered about my age; I am one of the fittest players in the team still.”
He admits that him dropping down the order has added depth to Kerala’s batting and solved an issue. “I am happy to bat anywhere that the team asks me to,” he said.
“When I found that there were youngsters who could bat at the top of the order for State Bank of India (Thiruvananthapuram), I decided to bat lower down the order. I did the same when I played in the Chennai league, too. And it worked for me.”
It has worked for Kerala, too.