Ravindra Jadeja provides multiple backups in the current Indian setup – as an all-rounder for Hardik Pandya, and as a third spinner if conditions are conducive. He can also be considered if India need a better depth in batting and a beefed up fielding unit. And thus, his showing with the bat in Saturday’s warm-up clash against New Zealand should sit up pretty well for himself as well as the team.Having won the toss, India elected to bat on a wicket with a fair amount of grass. It was a decision taken in order to test the batsmen in challenging conditions. None of the three opening options – Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul – managed to make a mark, all falling to Trent Boult. Even Virat Kohli, who was cleaned up by Colin de Grandhomme, fell soon after and India were left reeling at 39 for 4 in the 11th over.Hardik Pandya managed some quick runs while MS Dhoni hung around for a while but by the time Jadeja walked out to bat, they were reduced to 77 for 5, and three balls later, slid to 81 for 6. However, despite the batting collapse, Jadeja doesn’t believe there is much to fret about the top order’s failure.“We wanted to bat first on purpose, to test ourselves in seaming conditions,” he said at the post-match press conference. “Had it been during the tournament, we would have taken a better decision after winning the toss. We wanted to test ourselves in tough conditions, to perform there. Because if we go and bat on such a green pitch, it will become easier for the batsmen when they get flat tracks to bat on.”Boult snared a four-fer while James Neesham snared three wickets as India folded up for 179, batting less than 40 overs.
“The conditions were a bit tough, typical England conditions. The wicket was a bit soft in the first 15-20 overs. It got better and better as the match progressed,” he explained. “This was our first game, there’s nothing to worry about as a batting unit. It’s just a matter of one game. You can’t judge a player from one bad innings. We just need to work harder and focus more on our batting skills. Nothing to worry, everyone has a lot of experience… Hopefully, during the (world cup) matches, we get a different wicket, better wicket to bat on.”
However, amidst a below-par batting show, Jadeja’s half-century was a standout point. The southpaw stroked a 50-ball 54, including six boundaries and two sixes. A key feature of the knock was the 62-run stand he shared with Kuldeep Yadav for the ninth wicket to take India to a total of respectability.
Explaining his innings, he said, “When I went to bat today, I knew I had a lot of time. I didn’t want to play a bad shot. I was giving myself some time. I knew if I spend some time in the middle, it will only become easier for me to bat later. And that is exactly what happened. My shot selections were simple. Initially, when they were bowling in good areas, I let the balls go and then it got easier for me.
“I was working on my batting during IPL as well. Whenever I get time in the nets, I work on my basic technique and shot selection… Whenever I get an opportunity, I will continue to do the same that I’ve been doing all this while. I won’t take any extra pressure due to the world cup. Will try to keep my thinking process simple.