Ravindra Jadeja proud to prove his worth with maiden overseas century

Ravindra Jadeja raises his helmet and bat after scoring his third Test century
July 02, 2022

You'd think an allrounder who averages over 35 with the bat and under 25 with the ball (and takes four wickets per Test) across 60 Tests might not need the validation of a century to boost his confidence. You'd think Ravindra Jadeja might not need that boost of confidence. You'd be wrong.

Jadeja's first Test hundred outside India, and especially because it was in England, is one that he will draw from. "I'm feeling really good, to do it outside India, especially in England to hit a hundred as a player is a really big thing," he said. "I can really take some confidence in myself as a player from this, to score a hundred in England, in swinging conditions, so yeah it feels really good."

The innings was overshadowed by Rishabh Pant's 111-ball 146 but was marked by a discipline and sense of game-management that spoke of the work of a proper batter. Which is precisely what James Anderson identified as a shift from previous encounters with Jadeja - and the pair have, of course, history.

"In the past he was coming at 8, bat with the tail so he had to chance his arm a little bit," Anderson said, "whereas now at 7 he can bat like a proper batter. He leaves really well and made it difficult for us."

"In England you have play close to the body," Jadeja added. "The ball swings here so if you look to play the cover- or square-drive there is a chance you can edge to the cordon. My focus was to initially not play at too many balls outside off-stump.

"When the cover or point is vacant there is a temptation to hit the ball through that area for a boundary, but then you can get out in the slips. My thought was only to hit the ball that was really close to me and to hit it straight. Luckily, all the balls that I picked were in my areas and converted them into boundaries. If you know where your off-stump is, then you can leave the balls outside that line."

And Anderson's assessment?

"See, when you score runs, everyone says they think of themselves as a proper batter. But I've always tried to give myself time at the crease, to set a partnership with whoever is at the crease, to play with him. It's nice Jimmy Anderson has realised that after 2014… so I'm happy."

Facing opposition bowlers is one thing but long partnerships with a batter like Pant brings its own questions and decisions. The pair put on a record 222 and Jadeja said that, while batting with Pant, he understood Rahul Dravid's line about the difficulties of batting with Virender Sehwag: such was Sehwag's attacking game that it was difficult for the partner to not get swept alongside in a similar vein.

"Yes totally," he said. "A little pressure goes off because he's hitting every bowler in the same way. He wasn't leaving anyone alone. At the non-striker's end it feels good because they then don't focus too much on me.

"But as a batsman you still have to come to [a place like] England and concentrate and focus because it is never easy here. You're playing on 50 or 70 and you can get a good ball anytime. Me and Rishabh were talking about this, that we just try and put on a long partnership. When I came to bat we had to take the team to a good position and really had to put some effort in. Hopefully we've put a good total on the board."

With England 84 for 5 at the close of a rain-hit second day, that total of 416 was looking even more imposing. Three fast bowlers have done all the bowling and the wicket-taking thus far, but with England's engine room this summer of Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes at the crease, it may be that Jadeja's second suit is called upon as well.

"It might be that I have no role to play at all which will be a good thing," he said. "The way our four fast bowlers are bowling, Bumrah, Shami, Siraj and Shardul, I want that I don't have a role. That'll be best for the team.

"My job is to do whatever the team needs me to do. As an allrounder, sometimes the situation is that you need to make runs and save the team and help them win. In bowling you sometimes have to provide the breakthroughs and break partnerships or chip in with one or two wickets. I consider myself only a team player who does whatever the team needs."

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