In a boost for India, premier all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is likely to resume playing and will feature in Saurashtra’s Ranji Trophy final round, starting January 24. The match will be against Tamil Nadu in Chennai.
Jadeja had to miss the Asia Cup last September to undergo surgery on his right knee. Currently at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, Jadeja is finishing his rehab and was named in the 17-man Test squad by the selectors for the first part of the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy, starting February 9 in Nagpur . The second Test will be played in Delhi and the last two Tests will be played in Dharamsala and Ahmedabad.
However, the selectors picked Jadeja on the condition that he would be declared fully fit by the NCA. It is learned that Jadeja resumed bowling and batting earlier this week but will have to undergo a fitness test before being allowed to play competitive cricket. Considering Jadeja’s struggles – not only has he not played any cricket since September, but his last first-class match was the only Test against England at Edgbaston last July – the selectors along with the NCA and the Indian team management agreed Expressed that the all-rounder should play in a Ranji match before taking a decision on participating in the Australia Test series.
A fit Jadeja has shown that he picks himself up in the playing XI both at home and away. As a left-handed batsman and especially in the absence of Rishabh Pant, Jadeja provides balance to the middle order at No.5 or 6 with R Ashwin playing the role of the lead spinner.
While they are conscious of the risks of recalling Jadeja, the selectors also do not want to deprive India of his match-winning abilities, which he proved during Australia’s last Test series in India in 2016-17.
In one of the most thrilling bilateral series ever played, India beat Australia 2–1, winning the final Test in Dharamsala with Jadeja scoring 63 in the first innings as well as taking four wickets in the match. Jadeja was a stumbling block that Australia continued to face as he ended with his 25 wickets and 127 runs as the Player of the Series. Since 2017, in 19 Tests, Jadeja has taken 82 wickets at 21.46, including three five-fors. Importantly, his importance as a batsman gradually increased during this period where he scored 898 runs at an average of 52.82 with two centuries and seven fifties.
The result of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is important for both India and Australia as both are front-runners for the World Test Championship final to be held at The Oval in June. India needed to win the series to make the final, which would make them the first team to feature in the summit clash of both editions of the WTC.
Both the teams will have their own preparatory camps ahead of the first Test with the Australian team in Bengaluru while the Indians will be in Nagpur from February 1 to 5.
Additional reporting from Siddharth Monga