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Jadeja’s day out

India all-rounder relives his perfect day on the field

Ravindra Jadeja walked in on the fourth Day of the Lord’s Test with India on 203 for 6, after the wickets of MS Dhoni and Stuart Binny in quick succession. India’s lead was only 179 with hardly any batting to follow.

Any other batsman would have looked to settle in, buckle down and steady the innings. But Jadeja had other plans. After scores of 25, 31 and 3 in the series until then, the all-rounder was determined to make a telling contribution with the bat. And he not only chose the right moment but a totally unorthodox way to do it. He hit his way through it and smashed a 57-ball 68 with nine fours.

Along with an in-form, solid and confident Bhuvneshwar Kumar (52), Jadeja added 99 runs for the eighth wicket and India set England 319 to win. Jadeja was in action soon, coming on to bowl in the seventh over, and got the wicket of Sam Robson off his first ball. It was his day, and he made the most of it.

After the day, Jadeja spoke to BCCI.TV about the riveting day and discussed some unorthodox strategies that were evident on the field. He told us why MS Dhoni stood back to him and explained the meaning of his innovative celebration after getting his fifty.

You went in to bat when the team was in trouble. Yet you went for shots straight away. Reason?

Yesterday when I went back to the hotel in the evening I was thinking about my batting so far. I started thinking how I was going to play today and decided that the best way for me is to play my game. If I play any differently I won’t get runs. So I decided that irrespective of the situation I will back myself and go for my shots. That’s the only way I can score runs. When I went in to bat, the team also needed runs.

Bhuvi was so solid from the other end. Did that ease the pressure off you?

The good thing about our partnership was that both of us were scoring runs fluently and so we didn’t let them build pressure from one end. Bhuvi is in very good form and all his four innings so far have been very important for the team and personally for him. We hope that he continues to score runs throughout the series.

Having batted with the tail quite a bit now, do you think there has been a vast improvement in the tailenders’ batting?

That’s right. Our bowling coach always encourages our pacers to go and have a batting session in the nets. He makes them face throw-downs for 30-40 minutes each. Duncan Fletcher keeps telling us that the runs scored by No. 9, 10 and 11 are very important in all the formats, and we have seen it so far in this series.

What was the meaning of the celebration? MS was doing the same in dressing room.

It has got to do with a tradition that we have among the Rajpoots. During festivals and special occasions, we have professional sword-fighters perform with a sword in each hand, moving them in that fashion. It’s called ‘talwaar baazi’. I only had one bat with me so I did it with one hand. I wanted to have a different celebration and so I had decided whenever I get a fifty, I will do that. MS bhai must have seen it and realized what I was doing. So, he was mimicking me.

While bowling, you changed your end a couple of times. What was the reason behind that?

I just wanted to try out the two ends and see from where I got more purchase off the pitch. When Vijay came on to bowl, we wanted him to bowl from the nursery end so he could get the ball to pitch on rough marks against the left-handers and I could do the same from the other end.

You came on to bowl in seventh over. That’s something you do only in the subcontinent.

When I was batting I had the feeling that I would be asked to bowl pretty early. Being a left-hander myself, I knew exactly how the footmarks were affecting me and that’s when I started to make my bowling plans.

Why was MS Dhoni standing back to you?

It was because of the foot marks, it was very difficult for the left-hander, as the odd ball was taking off, a few kept low and some turned square. We thought it would be a good idea for the keeper to stand back because in case there was a nick, it would be an easy catch for him standing back. And that’s exactly what happened in the second last over but then MS was standing up to the stumps.

What was the target the team had in mind?

We didn’t have a particular number in mind initially but as the day progressed and we saw how the wicket was behaving, we thought anywhere between 250-280 would be a good target to put up a fight. The ball was bouncing awkwardly and spinning enormously and we knew the footmarks would be handy against their six left-handers. 

Shirin Sadikot

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Batting form has helped in bowling: Bhuvneshwar

Pacer says scoring runs has made planning for wickets easier for him

RP Singh, Praveen Kumar and now Bhuvneshwar Kumar – the last three Indian bowlers to have their name carved on the Lord’s Honours Board. All three got their five-fors in their respective first Tests at the Lord’s. And all three hail from the same Indian state, Uttar Pradesh. A beautiful coincidence.

Bhuvi has been the best bowler from both sides in eight days of Test cricket we have had between England and India. And that, despite being the slowest of the pacers from both teams. In conditions that are home to the tall, sturdy and intimidating English bowlers, the short, skinny and shy medium pacer has looked most at home.

After playing a decisive role in getting England out for 319, with his bowling effort of 6 for 82, Bhuvi spoke to BCCI.TV about how his first experience of bowling in overseas Test matches, his rapport with MS Dhoni as captain and wicketkeeper and the impact of his brilliant batting form on his bowling.

Five-for at Lord’s! Did it play on your mind overnight when you had four wickets?

It must sound strange but very frankly, it wasn’t on my mind. We knew today would be a crucial one and we had a chat about getting them out quickly anyhow. Maybe it’s because I knew that if I get wickets for the team, I will get a five-for for myself as well. So, rather than concentrating on my fifth scalp, I was focused on the larger picture.

Keeping the Uttar Pradesh tradition of getting a five-for in first Test at Lord’s intact?

Luckily it has turned out like that. I am happy I was able to keep that little tradition going. It will be good to see my name up on the honours board with my two state mates, RP Singh and Praveen Kumar.

You said that you spoke to Praveen Kumar before coming to England. What did he tell you?

Bowling wise, I am very similar to him and he just told me, ‘you know what you have to do’. He was very helpful in terms of giving me information about the different grounds and their peculiarities. For instance, of Lord’s he told me about the slope. He said you’ll feel a bit awkward at times bowling there but be mentally prepared. Honestly, when you look at the ground, you can see the slope but once you start bowling, you don’t feel much difference. It’s not as peculiar as people have made it out to be.

How is your understanding with MS Dhoni in terms of planning the wickets?

MS has always been a bowler’s captain. Even in my debut match he told me, ‘set your own fields and make your own plans. If I feel the need to change anything, I will tell you’. Since then it has worked that way and he is very open to suggestions if I want something different from what he does. We discuss the plans and strategies and that has helped us build good understanding between us. So far my plan in this series has been to get the batsman out behind him. For that you have to bowl a tight line and length. At times MS also stands up to me. That’s for when the batsman is trying to get forward to cut the swing. If the keeper is standing up, in the fear of getting stumped, the batsman will not try to walk down the wicket to negate the swing. We have figured out when to use that ploy and against which batsmen. Sometimes, he moves back and forth in a single over. That is the kind of planning that I do with MS.

Before Nottingham, you had nine wickets from six Tests in India. You got a five-for at Trent Bridge despite the wicket being very Indian. What changed?

The conditions and the wicket at Trent Bridge were very similar to those in India. But the difference was that in India, because the ball starts to turn very early, the spinners do most of the bowling and my role is much different. I mostly bowl with the new ball while it is swinging and get some wickets upfront. Here I have bowled a lot of overs and have had a role to play throughout the day.

What is the difference between bowling with SG ball and Dukes ball?

There is a lot of difference. The conditions here make the Dukes ball very effective for the pacers. The shine remains for longer duration and you can swing it for a longer time. Later on, if you maintain it properly, you can also reverse it. SG, however, is very good for the Indian conditions. In India the ball wears very early because it is used a lot by the spinners. Here, even though it gets old, it doesn’t roughen up as much, which makes it more difficult to reverse.

Do you think the England pacers have managed to reverse swing the ball more than you guys?

I don’t think there has been much of a difference. Even though we have bowled well so far, they are more experienced when it comes to bowling in these conditions and with the Dukes ball. They have a better idea about how to maintain it for reverse. We too are trying and learning but as of now they have the edge in that regards.

Duncan Fletcher told me that Indian bowlers don’t think like batsmen because they don’t do much batting in domestic cricket. Has spending so much time batting in the middle helped you understand the batsman’s mindset more as a bowler?

That is a fact. If you think like a batsman, you have an upper-hand over the man you’re bowling to. All the runs that I have scored here have played a huge role in the way I have bowled. Having batted there for long hours, I know where the batsman will find it difficult to play the ball. I can anticipate what is going on in his mind and plan the next ball accordingly. The runs also give you confidence, which gets transformed into courage of conviction when you come on to bowl.

Shirin Sadikot

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