Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Unadkat is hopeful of India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja’s comeback for his team’s seventh-round fixture Ranji Trophy fixture against Tamil Nadu in Chennai starting January 24.
The 34-year-old Jadeja suffered a knee injury during India’s Asia Cup campaign and has been out of action since September 2022. The Saurashtra star also missed India’s T20 World Cup campaign in Australia. Jadeja is still working on his fitness at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
Meanwhile, the BCCI’s senior selection committee announced India’s squad for the first two Border-Gavaskar Tests against Australia last week. With the series slated to begin from February 9 in Nagpur, the BCCI stated that Jadeja’s inclusion would be subject to fitness and had reportedly asked him to prove the same with a Ranji outing.
Speaking about Jadeja’s inclusion, Unadkat said: “That’s what I am hearing as well (Jadeja playing next week). Honestly, it will be great if he turns up, and I’m sure he is doing well at the training in NCA. Hopefully, he will play for Saurashtra and make his comeback.”
Provided Jadeja clears the fitness hurdle, he will join domestic teammates Cheteshwar Pujara and Unadkat in India’s squad.
Jadeja last featured in a Ranji Trophy game in November 2018. The left-arm spinner’s availability remains crucial to India’s chances as he emerged as the leading wicket-taker (25) during its last Border-Gavaskar series at home in 2017.
Guarding against complacency
While Saurashtra has one foot in the knockouts – it leads the Elite Group B with 26 points – Unadkat asserted there’s no room for complacency.
“We are nearly there (quarterfinals), but it’s still not over. It’s a tough group, and teams are fighting hard. The other teams are also aware of the table and going to play hard till the end,” Unadkat said.
Should Saurashtra qualify, it is uncertain if Unadkat, Pujara will participate in the quarterfinals that begin from January 31. Unadkat, on the comeback trail with the Indian Test squad, said Saurashtra had done reasonably well in his absence and will draw inspiration from the first three rounds. Saurashtra secured two draws (first-innings leads) and secured a big win over Mumbai in late December.
“The team now has the belief to win from any situation. It’s come from a lot of work in the four-day game over the last five years. We have backed players to the fullest, and most of them have played more than 40-50 games. All of them have been good enough to win matches on their own,” Unadkat remarked.