Ravindra Jadeja’s improved batting and more control on a flat deck has prompted his selection ahead of a champion bowler like Ravichandran Ashwin in the playing XI against the West Indies, India’s head coach Ravi Shastri said.

Jadeja’s selection in the playing XI ahead of Ashwin, who had a proven record against the West Indies, ‘astonished’ none other than Sunil Gavaskar but the all-rounder proved his worth with an under-pressure half-century and a couple of wickets in the first Test in Antigua. India have persisted with the left-arm spinner for the second Test in Jamaica as well.

“Look at Jaddu, his record is fabulous. You have to see what he brings to the table. He is probably best fielder in the world now and he has improved his batting like hell,” Shastri told former England spinner Graeme Swann during an interview for the official broadcaster Sony Sports Network.

Ashwin struggled for fitness in India’s last couple of tours outside the sub-continent, even though his away record has constantly improved. While Shastri didn’t speak about the Tamil Nadu off-spinner’s weakness, he did mention what stood out for Jadeja as a spinner.

“And if you see these tracks (North Sound and Kingston) ... from what I have seen of this track (Kingston), I don’t think there would be much on offer for the spinners and that’s where you would need control,” said Shastri.

On his selection in the first Test, Shastri said that Jadeja’s ability to bowl on a damp wicket in the first session of a Test match was factored in.

“The reason why we picked Jadeja in the first Test was, in case we fielded and the track was damp, with his pace, he would have made life little awkward for the batsmen. He could have been used on the first session of play even on day one.

“That was the reason why we picked Jadeja even though Ash (Ashwin) is a world-class spinner. It is difficult decision to leave out Ashwin or Kuldeep (Yadav) who is waiting in the wings,” said Shastri.

Shastri also spoke about the pressure of being the head coach, while admitting he missed his role as a commentator on big match days or when his players do well in a match. “When someone goes bang, bang for a few sixes, I sometimes erupt in the dressing room these days. But coaching and commentating, it’s like chalk and cheese. The pressure is so much more significant, there are so many more responsibilities as the coach,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)