India skipper Hardik Pandya was full of praise for the returning Ravindra Jadeja, who in his first ODI in 8 months, walked away with the Player of the Match award for a sizzling all-round showing that not only saw him take 2 wickets with the ball and score 45 valuable runs with the bat, but also take a stunning catch that changed the course of the match.
A knee injury meant that Jadeja had to miss each of India’s previous three ODI series — versus Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and New Zealand respectively — but on his comeback, the 34-year-old showed no rust as he brought out his ‘A’ game in all three departments to help India take a crucial 1-0 lead in the series.
Jadeja turned on the heat and stole the show at the Wankhede, and in the process mightily impressed his skipper Pandya.
“Talking about Jaddu, he did what he's capable of,” Pandya said in the post match presentation.
“Coming after a break in ODI cricket, the way he finished as well, we needed a partnership with KL and he did the job for us. That was fantastic.”
India coasted over the line in the end, winning with 61 balls to spare, but the actual contest was far closer than what the scoreline suggests; the hosts had to scrap for the win. They were under pressure both while batting and bowling and the composure the side showed, overall, left Pandya impressed.
The skipper was also pleased with his side’s catching — the catch of the game once again belonging to Jadeja, who took a diving screamer at point.
“We were under pressure both the times . We kept our composure and found ways to come out of those situations. Once we got the momentum towards us, we were quite on top of the game.
“I am really proud of the way we caught today. The number of chances we created ... they had to be taken. Outstanding catches by Jaddu and Shubman as well.”
Friday’s encounter was Pandya’s first as skipper in 50-over cricket and the stand-in captain attested that he enjoyed both his own performance and how the team fared. Pandya himself played a crucial hand on both the batting and bowling front, scoring 25 valuable runs with the bat and taking the all-important wicket of Steve Smith.
“It was hot, I was enjoying my bowling. I was enjoying my batting as well. The way KL and Jaddu finished it off and the way they batted, it gave us the confidence. It was very relaxing watching them bat. Overall, a very good victory and very proud of them,” Pandya said.
Jadeja, meanwhile, revealed that, on the day, he was merely looking to adapt as quickly as possible, considering he hadn’t played any 50-over cricket in eight months.
“I’m playing ODI cricket after 8 months so I was just looking to adapt to the format as soon as possible,” Jadeja revealed.
“Luckily with the ball, I got a few wickets. When I went to bat, I was looking to build a partnership with KL. I knew that the total was small but still we had to chase it down.
“We were playing Test cricket so the line and length is different here. You can't keep bowling one pace. I was just looking to bowl in good areas. Also I was getting a little bit of turn, so I thought I need to bowl in the right areas and the wicket will do the rest."