Ravindra Jadeja thanks staff of NCA, physios, trainers after remarkable comeback in Nagpur

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Nagpur, Feb 11

In his comeback to Test cricket after five months of recovering from a knee injury, left-arm spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja produced a magnificent all-round performance in Indias thrashing of Australia by an innings and 132 runs in the first Border-Gavaskar Trophy match at Nagpur.

After receiving the Player of the Match award for picking 5/47 and 2/34 in both innings with the ball and making a crucial 70 in India's innings with the bat to give them a substantial lead, Jadeja expressed gratitude to people at Bengaluru's National Cricket Academy (NCA) for helping him get back to full fitness.

"It feels amazing...after five months, give 100%, take wickets and score runs. Feels amazing. I've been working hard since I was at NCA, also doing my rehab. Would like to thank all the NCA staff, physios, and trainers, they have been working hard with me," he said in the post-match presentation ceremony.

With Australia proving to be falling like nine pins against spin, Jadeja stated he was aware of bowling in the right areas on a slow pitch, with subtle use of crease, pace, line and length, while keeping things sorted with the bat.

"I looked to bowl in good areas, the ball was spinning, the ball was going straight and also keeping low. I know the Australians will look to play sweep and reverse sweep. Generally, I look to keep things very simple (with the bat) and not change too much. I focus more on my batting now because it's a crucial number, 5, 6, 7, so have to put myself in a pressure situation."

Ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who touched the 450 Test wickets mark in the first innings and got his 31st five-wicket haul in the second innings, was appreciative of Jadeja's presence helping him as well as the Indian Test team.

"Massive help is an understatement. He's been in phenomenal form. The way he's batted, the way he's bowled and we don't have to talk about how well he moves in the field. He's been a fantastic cricketer."

"I'm so thankful for the fact that I've got a partner like him to be bowling alongside me and Axar is no ordinary bowler either. We've got a very good set of spinners and all of us who can bat."

Asked what was the key to success on a slow pitch like Nagpur, Ashwin said, "I thought this wicket was quite slow. You need to get the batsman driving on this. Getting them to drive was a good way for me to lure them into shots and induce the other half of the bat as well. The carry and bounce seemed a little low."

Ashwin went on to credit the Indian batters for making 400 in the first innings and getting a substantial 223-run lead. In India's innings, captain Rohit Sharma led the way with a fantastic 120, followed by Jadeja and Axar Patel making 70 and 84 respectively, and Mohammed Shami chipping in with a cameo of 37.

"I'd credit the batting unit, they really dug deep and kept them on the field for a long while. It's going to be tough for the team to come out and bat. The early wickets really set the tone today."

Ashwin himself was decent with the bat, making 23 off 67 balls as a nightwatchman. He remarked that if an opportunity like this rises in the future, he would take it gladly.

"I've really struggled to cope with sitting inside and watching the guys bat sometimes, I am too nervous these days. I've been asking them for an opportunity to go out and bat early if there's an opportunity and it presented itself. My friend Pujara just let it go, he said I need a nightwatchman, 20 minutes to go.' I took the opportunity gladly."

"I really look forward to going out there and batting. I am getting into good positions. If and when there's an opportunity, I am always ready. Knowing Puji, I think it's going to happen."

With India 1-0 up in four-match series, Ashwin signed off by saying the hosts' are expecting Australia to bounce back strongly in the second Test at New Delhi. "This is probably the Plan A they (Australia) had, I am sure they'll introspect and try to come out with different plans next game. I've experimented a lot, but staying in the moment is very important."

"If you keep flying and wanna make plans in the air, sometimes it can go amiss. I expect Australia to come back really hard and strong. They are a world-class side. In this game, we just batted beautifully and batted deep even today. 220 is a lot of runs. The next game would be different, I am looking forward to it."

--IANS

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