Indian skipper Rohit Sharma called Ravindra Jadeja one of the world’s best all-rounders after the left-hander stood out in the team’s massive Test win over Sri Lanka on Sunday.
India won the first of the two Tests – Virat Kohli’s 100th five-day match and Rohit’s first as longer-format captain – inside three days by an innings and 222 runs in Mohali.
Jadeja smashed an unbeaten 175 and claimed a match tally of nine wickets with his left-arm spin to be named player of the match.
Jadeja, 33, is currently placed third in the Test all-rounders list behind Ashwin Ravichandran and number one Jason Holder of the West Indies. Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan is fourth and England’s Ben Stokes sixth.
Coming in at No 7, Jadeja recorded a Test best in his second century of his career and put on marathon partnerships to steer India to 574-8 after they elected to bat first.
He put on 130 runs for the seventh wicket with Ashwin and then an unbeaten 103-run ninth-wicket stand with Mohammed Shami.
Jadeja has hit three triple centuries including a best of 331 for his state side Saurashtra while batting at number four. He has played 58 Tests for India since his debut in 2012, scoring 2,370 runs at an average of 36.46. He has taken 241 wickets including 10 five-wicket hauls.
Rohit spoke on an array of topics in the post-match press conference. Here’s a look at what he had to say:
On Jadeja’s all-round brilliance...
“As a captain, I want to use Jadeja a lot more with the bat. We all know his bowling. Everyone knows about his fielding. I hope I get the opportunity to use his batting more in the future because we have got a lot of young players who we also need to see.
“Hunger is something that drives athletes to move forward. I see that clearly in Jadeja. He’s hungry for success, he’s hungry to get runs and do well for the team. When I talk to him about certain things he is very open-minded. He wants to take the responsibility, he wants to take the challenge.
“The example was there in the T20 series against Sri Lanka. I just casually asked him if we would want to bat up the order and he was open for it. This is why we asked him to go up in the first T20.
“Jadeja seems to be right up there, in my mind at least, to get the best out of him. He brings so much balance to the team as well. Look at the performances. To score 175 not out and take nine wickets in the game, he’s just upping his game every time we see him. In the past as well when we played in India his contribution with the bat lower down the order and picking those crucial wickets.”
On Ashwin’s greatness...
“He’s been playing for so many years for India, and he has done so well. He’s given so many match-winning performances. So he’s an all-time great, for me.
“I’ve been watching Ashwin for a long time now. Whenever I watch him, he seems to get better and better. Ashwin is one of those kinds of players [who have confidence in their abilities] – whatever he wants to go out there and achieve for himself and then for the team as well. He played a crucial innings as well with the bat – got us a big partnership with Jadeja.”
Creating bench strength...
“If you create that bench strength and you start thinking from now, Indian cricket will be in good hands. This is one of my challenges and one of my responsibilities. I have to take it upon me to create that bench strength, keeping in mind a lot of things.
“It’s going to be my biggest challenge more than winning games and all of that. For me what is important is how I approach those guys who are sitting outside and how I can get them in a good mindset. When they get an opportunity they should be very clear as to what they want to go out there and achieve. That will impact all our performances whether we win or lose games.
“You can’t just say you have to win games. While winning games there are a lot of things you need to do: create bench strength, give clarity to people, create a good environment so that it’s a nice and happy atmosphere where people want to go out there and do their job. They should not feel too much pressure. Of course, when you are playing international cricket, pressure is there. But that external pressure shouldn’t be there, internal pressure is fine.
“We will try and back them as much as possible so that at the end of the day when they come back home, they feel ‘I got my opportunity, if I didn’t do well I’m still happy as long as the role was given to me, there was clarity’. As long as that procedure is put in place, we will hold ourselves in good shape.”
On Vihari batting at No 3...
“We are not so certain about anything at the moment. We are understanding what is right at this particular time and moving forward. In time to come you will realise who is the No. 3 player for us.
“At the moment, it is Vihari and he did pretty well. He will continue to do that in the next Test as well. I honestly can’t tell you about the future because the future is very uncertain. We need to live in the present and focus on what lies ahead in the next game.
“It’s important to do that, give these guys confidence and we will take it from there. We are very open minded as a team management, so whatever suits the best for the team we will try and take that call.”
Inputs from AFP and PTI