Amid all the disappointments of a harrowing loss by an innings and 32 runs against South Africa in the Boxing Day Test and the news day after of losing two more WTC points due to slow over rate, there is some silver lining for Team India in the form of Ravindra Jadeja. The star all-rounder, who missed the series opener in Centurion due to an upper back spasm, felt on the morning of Day 1 of the Test match, has started to train and is likely to be available for selection for the New Year’s Test in Cape Town.
Jadeja was always the preferred choice at No.7 ahead of R Ashwin mainly due to his superior batting skills in overseas conditions but India had no option but to go with their premier spinner in the first Test. Ashwin did fairly well with the ball, picking 1 for 41 in his 19 overs in unfavourable conditions for spinners but where India felt Jadeja’s absence was with the bat. The left-hander would perhaps have done a similar hold-up job with the ball but with the bat, he was better equipped to handle the pace and bounce of the South African fast bowlers.
As per news agency PTI, Jadeja was a part of the warm-up session before the proceedings started in the middle on Day 3. The all-rounder didn’t look in any sort of discomfort as he ran multiple 30 to 40-metre short strides during the morning session.
He also did a few fitness drills during the session.
But the most reassuring aspect was his bowling during the lunch break on the third day. Along with reserve pacer Mukesh Kumar, Jadeja, for close to 20 minutes, bowled on a practice track and was keenly watched by the team’s strength and conditioning coach, Rajnikant.
He was mainly doing spot bowling although he has a two-step run-up. He was hitting the spot consistently and was also seen getting to turn a few in the process.
The best part was that he didn’t look gingerly at all during the short session when he was bowling.
India likely to play both Ashwin and Jadeja in 2nd Test
With still four days to for the second and last Test in Cape Town, there is a high possibility of Jadeja’s return. But it might not be in place of Ashwin. After the kind of performance Shardul Thakur put in as the fourth seamer, the Indian team management would be tempted to play both Ashwin and Jadeja. At least, they can hold one end up to allow Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah to strike from the other end.
India have also summoned Avesh Khan, who was already in South Africa as part of the India A team, for the Cape Town Test. This more or less assures that Prasidh Krishan is unlikely to hold on to his place. India’s bowling attack could bear a different look in the next Test with two spinners and three seamers in their side. Also, the pitch in Cape Town is likely to be better for spinners as the match progresses.