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Jadeja targets ‘match fitness’ in Ranji Trophy just in time for Border-Gavaskar series

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India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja said he is fit and raring to return as he will captain Saurashtra in its Ranji Trophy seventh-round match against Tamil Nadu in Chennai from Tuesday.

Jadeja was ruled out of competitive cricket for five months since September 2022 after suffering a ligament injury during India’s Asia Cup campaign in the United Arab Emirates. India was handed a huge blow as the 34-year-old subsequently missed the T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia.

“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,” Jadeja told in an interaction with the media at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Monday.

Jadeja reckoned it was probably the longest time he has been away from the cricket field. “I think so yeah because I was out for almost five months. It was a ligament tear but it is nice now and I am slowly getting that confidence day by day,” he said.

While Jadeja’s Saurashtra and India teammates, Jaydev Unadkat and Cheteshwar Pujara, have been rested from this round ahead of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia, he will have to prove his fitness in this round to join the national camp ahead of the first Test in Nagpur from February 9.

“My first priority is to get on the field and be fit 100 per cent. 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.

Jadeja completed his rehabilitation process at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru over the last three weeks. However, he is awaiting his test with match fitness ahead of India’s crucial clash with Australia, which will affect its World Test Championship final qualification.

“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,” he said.

Jadeja will be playing his first Ranji Trophy match for Saurashtra since November 2018 and his first as captain at the First-Class level.

“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,” Jadeja said.

Extended practice

While the rest of his teammates limbered up with a round of football, Jadeja warmed up with stretching sessions under the eyes of NCA strength and condition coach Sudarsan VP.

He then assessed the pitch with coach Niraj Odedra before addressing his teammates in a long huddle chat.

Later on, Jadeja proceeded to the batting nets to have an extended knocking session and batted on three different strips. While he played some solid strokes, Jadeja looked uncomfortable against the side-arm thrower and copped a blow from a short delivery. However, he continued batting before switching gears to bowl with light strides.

While Saurashtra has confirmed its quarterfinal spot from Elite Group B, it would still aim to top the group with a win to gain the home advantage for the knockout match.

VIDEO CREDIT: Mayank

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