In a boost for India, premier allrounder Ravindra Jadeja
is likely to resume playing and will feature in Saurashtra’s final round of Ranji Trophy starting January 24. The match will be against Tamil Nadu in Chennai.
Jadeja had to abort the Asia Cup last September to undergo surgery on his right knee
. Currently at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, Jadeja is winding up his rehab and was named by the selectors in the 17-man Test squad
for the first half of the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy which begins in Nagpur from February 9. The second Test will be played in Delhi followed by the final two Tests in Dharamsala and Ahmedabad.
The selectors, though, picked Jadeja on the condition that he was declared fully fit by the NCA. It is learned that Jadeja started to bowl and bat from earlier this week, but will need to take fitness tests before he gets the nod to play competitive cricket. Keeping in mind Jadeja’s rustiness – not only has he not played any cricket since September, but his previous first-class match was the one-off Test at Edgbaston against England last July – the selectors along with the NCA and the Indian team management agreed the allrounder should play in the Ranji game before taking a call on his participation in the Australia Test series.
A fit Jadeja has shown he picks himself in the playing XI both at home and overseas. As a left-hand batter and especially in the absence of Rishabh Pant
, Jadeja offers balance to middle-order at No. 5 or 6 while playing the lead spinner role alongside R Ashwin.
While they are mindful about the risks of rushing Jadeja back, the selectors also do not want to deprive India of his match-winning abilities, which he proved during Australia’s previous Test series in India in 2016-17.
One of the most thrilling bilateral series ever played, India overcame Australia 2-1, winning the final Test in Dharamsala
thanks in part to Jadeja’s 63 in their first innings as well as a match haul of four wickets. Jadeja was an obstacle Australia kept encountering as he finished the Player of the Series for his 25 wickets and 127 runs. Since 2017, in 19 Tests, Jadeja has taken 82 wickets at 21.46 including three five-fors. Importantly his value as a batter has increased gradually in this period where he has scored 898 runs at an average of 52.82 along with two centuries and seven fifties.
The result of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is significant for both India and Australia because both are frontrunners to contest the World Test Championship final in June which is scheduled at The Oval. India need to win the series to make the final, which will make them the first team to feature in the summit clash of both editions of WTC.
Both teams will have their own preparatory camps ahead of the first Test with the Australians in Bengaluru while the Indians will be in Nagpur between February 1-5.
Additional reporting from Sidharth Monga