Ravindra Jadeja, who hasn’t played any competitive cricket since September 2022, is set to lead Saurashtra in their 2022-23 Ranji Trophy seventh-round encounter against Tamil Nadu in Chennai. The spin-bowling all-rounder, who has been named in the Indian squad for the first two Tests against Australia, has been asked to prove his fitness before the all-important series.
Saurashtra have already qualified for the knockouts and will miss the services of Jaydev Unadkat and Cheteshwar Pujara who have been rested ahead of the four-match series against Australia. In Unadkat’s absence, Jadeja will lead Saurashtra and will be playing his first Ranji Trophy match since November 2018.
“I am feeling good to be back on the field. I am very excited and looking forward to this game. Hopefully, it’ll come good as a team and as an individual also. It was a ligament tear but it is nice now and I am slowly getting that confidence day by day,” Sportstar quoted Jadeja as saying prior to the game against Tamil Nadu, starting on Tuesday (January 24).
"You feel bad. Nobody wants to get injured at your peak time. It is part of the game. You have to keep that in mind and be prepared for it. You can't do anything. There is no guarantee that one won't get injured in cricket."
In September 2022, Jadeja had to leave the Indian camp after their group-stage games in the Asia Cup due to a long-standing knee injury which forced him to undergo surgery for the issue.
Jadeja hasn’t played any first-class matches since the Edgbaston Test in July and even though he picks himself in the Indian squad for the Australia series, being the sole left-handed batter in the absence of Rishabh Pant, his fitness needs to be fully ascertained before taking a risk.
“My first priority is to get on the field and be fit 100 percent. Once I’ll regain that level, I will work on my skills, whether it’s batting or bowling but my first priority is my fitness,” he said.
“I was at the NCA for like 20 days, so I was doing my batting and bowling, but the match scenario is different. I want one game before the Australia series, and that is why I am here.
“It’s great to be back with Saurashtra. I am sure I can contribute a lot to the youngsters in this team over the next four days. They will benefit from our interactions, and I am open to helping each one of them."
In the previous Border-Gavaskar Trophy in India, Jadeja was the biggest contributor to the Indian side and finished with 25 wickets and 127 runs to win the Player of the Series award. In the last five years, the left-hander is averaging over 50 with the bat to emerge as the biggest match-winner for the Indian side.
The first Test against Australia will be played in Nagpur from February 9.