Was expecting the call-up: Jadeja
Nagpur, Dec 13: If a couple of months ago someone would have predicted that Ravindra Jadeja would be playing Test cricket for India before the new year begins, it would’ve have been deemed improbable. And yet, there was Jadeja, donning the navy blue India cap No.275 when India began their endeavour to save the home Test series against England in Nagpur.
The reason why the 24-year-old all-rounder from Saurashtra finds himself among the elite India cricketers is as phenomenal as his selection. Within a month’s time, he racked up two first-class triple centuries, took a six-wicket haul and three four-fors in the on-going Ranji Trophy. In short, he made it impossible for the selectors to ignore him when they decided to ring some major changes for the final Test.
At the very first opportunity, the left-arm spinner reposed his captain’s faith in him by scalping two England top-order wickets – Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen – on the first day of the Test. This was, of course, after receiving his Test cap from Sachin Tendulkar.
After the stumps on Day 1, Jadeja spared time to talk to bcci.tv about the new lease on life that his international career has received.
You’re in the middle of a very successful domestic season. Was a Test call-up on your mind?
When I started this season, my only aim was to get back into the Indian team. In this Ranji Trophy season, be it practice sessions or matches, the only thing on my mind was to score big whenever I get the opportunity and pave my way back into the national team. After the two triple-centuries, I had the feeling that I have a good chance of being selected.
How did you react to the news?
To be honest, I didn’t get much time to realise that I have just been called up for Tests. We were in the middle of a Ranji game and one of my teammates came to tell me on the field that I have been selected in the Test squad. I felt good hearing that, but I couldn’t decide for a while whether it was real or not. My body couldn’t react at that time. It’s a big thing to just represent India, whether it’s ODIs or T20s. But to play Test cricket for the country is something else.
And receiving your Test cap from Sachin Tendulkar makes it all the more special?
I got my ODI cap from him as well, and it’s massive for me. It feels great to receive both my debut ODI and Test caps from Sachin Paaji’s hands. It’s a wonderful feeling to play with him and all the other senior players of the team.
This is a very crucial Test for India with a big series on the line. What is it like making your debut with the team under so much pressure?
I haven’t thought much about the extra pressure. The good thing is that the domestic season is on currently and I have been doing well with both bat and ball. All I had planned was that if I get the chance to play today, I’ll just go about things as I have in the Ranji Trophy and handle the situations in a similar manner.
Can you describe your first Test wicket, that of Jonathan Trott?
I was trying to hit him on the pad and get him lbw. But it pitched a bit outside the off-stump and he left it thinking it would go past the fourth or fifth stump and got bowled. Picking your first Test wicket is a different feeling altogether and achieving that in the very first innings of your career is even more special.
Today you bowled almost double the overs than R Ashwin and Piyush Chawla, the two regular spinners. Do you consider yourself more of a bowler or a batsman?
I consider myself a proper all-rounder and try to contribute based on what the team requires. Even during the practice sessions, I concentrate equally on bowling and batting. I have never tagged myself as a bowler or batsman and have just tried to grab whatever opportunity comes my way. In Ranji Trophy I generally bat at No.4 and am expected to score runs each time.
You have joined your Saurashtra mate Cheteshwar Pujara in the Test team. How big is this for Saurashtra cricket to have two representatives in the Test side at once?
Never before have two players from Saurashtra played for India together, and especially in Test cricket. It’s wonderful for us and our state team that both Cheteshwar and I are playing Test cricket for India together. We will try our best to keep the India and Saurashtra flag flying high.