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Nagpur pitch isn’t a rank turner, needed to use crease to confuse batters: Jadeja

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 series.

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

By: Mohnish Singh

Ravindra Jadeja used the crease intelligently to create a variety of angles which confused the Australian batters, and clearly showed his exploits on Thursday were not the result of so-called “rank turner” as is being bandied around by some.

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 series.

“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.

He then explained how he played mind games with the batters 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.

Jadeja also said the aim was to bowl stump to stump on a low-bounce track. The spinner added that he was happy with his rhythm, having played a quality Ranji Trophy match for Saurashtra against Tamil Nadu last month.

Jadeja had taken seven second-innings wickets in the first-class match on return from a five-month injury layoff.

“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.

Jadeja was provisionally picked for the Test series against Bangladesh in December last year but he said that he only wanted to return once he was fully fit and had the confidence back.

“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.

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