‘Was Going Wide Off the Crease’: Ravindra Jadeja Opens up on Planting Steve Smith And Marnus Labuschagne’s Wickets

Star India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja suggested that Nagpur’s pitch isn’t a rank turner after claiming a five-wicket haul on Day 1 of opening Test match. There was a lot of noise around the pitch ahead of the match that it is going to be a rank turner and the hosts have doctored it in their favour. However, Jadeja, who was the standout performer with the ball, said that the surface was a bit slow and had a low bounce as compared to other pitches.

While the southpaw used the crease intelligently to create a variety of angles which put doubts in the Australian batters’ minds as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals.

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Jadeja took 5 for 47 on his international comeback with the prized scalps of Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith as Australia managed only 177 in their first innings on the opening day of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

“This wasn’t a rank turner. Compared to other pitches, it was slow and had low bounce. I felt defending wasn’t very difficult today but as the game progresses, it (defending) will become increasingly difficult. But that’s the nature of Test cricket,” Jadeja said at the end of day’s play.

Jadeja further pointed out how he troubled the likes of Smith and Labuschagne and got the better of them.

“I used the crease as not every delivery was turning. And, as I said, the bounce was low, so trying (I tried) to create doubts in the minds of the batters,” he explained.

“I was going wide off the crease and coming close to the stumps and some deliveries if they stepped out and it turned, there would always be a chance. Luckily, he (Marnus Labuschagne) stepped out (and) that one (delivery) turned after pitching. And for (Steve) Smith, the ball went straight from that same spot from where I delivered the earlier (Marnus) delivery,” said the man, who is now three shy of 250 Test wickets.

The idea was to keep the Aussies guessing about which delivery would turn and which one would come straight with the angle, and it worked to perfection for the wily spinner.

“Yes, there was natural variation from the wicket, but I tried to mix up the angles, so that there was doubt in the batter’s mind,” he said.

India vs Australia 1st Test Day 1 Highlights

The southpaw further talked about the rhythm and suggested that on a surface like Nagpur’s, there are more chances of dismissing the batter LBW and bowled.

“I loved the rhythm with which I bowled (today) and the ball came out of my hand quite well, line and length was also accurate, since there is no bounce off the track.

“I preferred bowling stump to stump. On a low-bounce track, there are more chances of leg before and bowled, and luckily, I got a few leg-before and bowled, so that makes me happy,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say this is exactly like the Chennai track (where the Ranji Trophy game was played) but quite similar to it in terms of low bounce. So, the thought process was to bowl stump to stump.”

It wasn’t easy to rotate the strike

Jadeja added that when Smith and Labuschagne added 84 runs for the third wicket, breaking the partnership was uppermost on his mind.

“They were searching for runs and it wasn’t easy to rotate the strike and get runs off each ball. (So they) also started trying different things.

“And once they had a partnership, I thought, I should bowl as many dot balls as possible consistently. (The) pitch wasn’t offering turn, so (I) had to bowl (in) good areas and maintain good line and length to break the stand,” he added.

Only wanted to come back when 100 per cent fit

Before Nagpur’s Test, the southpaw last played for India in Asia Cup 2022 where he sustained a knee injury and was out of action for nearly 5 months.

He talked about the rehabilitation process and said he was motived to get 100 percent fit during that time and worked hard on it.

“It was (a) difficult (phase) as I have missed a lot of cricket in the last five months, missed important tournaments (Asia Cup and World T20). Rehabs are tough for players and even tougher is to keep the level of performance post rehab.

“You need that confidence and there are always doubts that (whether) post injury your performance will remain the same or not.

“My motivation was to get fit as quickly as possible as I had already spent five months away from cricket and I wanted to be 100 per cent fit, so it took me some more time. The doubt that I wanted to clear is whether or not I am able to give that 100 per cent in match situation,” he said.

(With PTI Inputs)

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