It has been four months and seven days since Ravindra Jadeja last played for India. Ever since India’s Asia Cup 2022 tie against Hong Kong, the all-rounder has been on the shelf nursing a knee injury for which he required to undergo surgery. Following a successful procedure, Jadeja has been undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy and uploading videos of his progress, hinting at everything positive. Having said that, the BCCI and its selectors have remained mum about his comeback – there have been no tentative dates revealed or even remotely mentioned as to when the sword celebration will be back. On occasions, the selectors had even touched upon Jasprit Bumrah’s return but have always refrained from commenting anything on Jadeja.
But thanks to India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, the mystery seems to have ended. The senior India spinner may just have revealed Jadeja’s return date, and if he his massive hint is any indication, it isn’t too far away. Ashwin, who will return to India duty from the Border-Gavaskar Trophy from next month, is confident of seeing Jadeja make his much-awaited return against Australia.
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“I put in a lot of work whenever a home series happens. I’m expecting (Ravindra) Jadeja to come through (be fit in time) but I like expanding more angles. I got some things in my head. I’ve been watching Australia play in Australia. I’d like to be working on some different angles, something new,” Ashwin told The New Indian Express.
Ashwin played a vital role the last time India and Australia played a Test series. Not only did he excel with the ball – dismissing the dangerous Steve Smith twice – Ashwin played a mighty fine innings with the bat, his unbeaten 39 off 128 balls allowing India to walk away with a draw. Ashwin batted with a stiff back and copped many a blow to his body, but refused to throw in the towel, added a stubborn partnership with Hanuma Vihari and rallied until the final ball was bowled.
As India prepare the retain the trophy against Australia, Ashwin’s role will once again be highly crucial, more so given the fact that the Aussies have not won a Test series in India since 2004. Ashwin has had reasonable success against Australia having taken 89 wickets in 18 Tests – 50 of which have been on home soil. Hence, with a 19-year-streak at stake, Ashwin is doing whatever it takes to be in the best physical shape possible.
“I have started my training. I have been dreaming (about the series) and I’ve been doing some yoga. I’ve been religiously doing yoga over the last year or so. I think it’s just helped me feel much better. As for the skills, I’ve definitely put in a lot of work on my batting. My batting has really been upscale over the last 18 months or so,” he added.
“Even at this stage of my career, I want to keep that benchmark going. This year I was supposed to play the Ranji Trophy, but what happened was I played the games in Bangladesh and when I came back, I had to look after my niggles a little bit. I have just taken a small break and I’m putting myself through a four-week programme where I’m strengthening my entire body.”