It was a decision that helped raise quite a few eyebrows when India announced their playing XI on the eve of the recently-concluded 2nd Test in Melbourne. India’s team combination in the absence of Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami was much talked about but the visiting side took a bold call to include Ravindra Jadeja in place of Virat Kohli and head to the Boxing Day Test with 5 bowling options.
Quite a few had backed KL Rahul to get the nod to shore up the batting unit, especially after India were bundled out for their lowest-ever Test score of 36. However, India took a gamble and opted for Ravindra Jadeja among the 4 changes they had made for the 2nd Test.
Ravindra Jadeja stepped up and delivered as he not only hit a match-winning 57 during a hundred-run stand with captain Ajinkya Rahane but also chipped in with two crucial wickets with the ball. Jadeja’s ground fielding and catching was, as usual, on the mark as India bundled out Australia for 195 and 200 before gunning down a 70-run target.
Jadeja’s batting skills has been on the rise and it was not a surprise to see the left-hander hit a crucial fifty while batting at No. 7.
As it turns out, head coach Ravi Shastri had spearheaded the team management’s decision to play Ravindra Jadeja in place of Virat Kohli, who had headed home on paternity leave after the first Test.
Speaking on Sports Today YouTube, India Today Sports Consulting Editor, Boria Majumdar revealed how India arrived at the decision to give Ravindra Jadeja an opportunity in Melbourne. The team management not only wanted to make things difficult for the Australian pacers by including two left-handers (Jadeja and Rishabh Pant) but also have two spinners in the XI to make sure Australia batsmen find scoring tough. Notably, India had fielded 11 right-handers in Adelaide.
“It was a Ravi Shastri move as far as the management is concerned. It was a management call, spearheaded by Ravi Shastri. The logic is pretty much clear The idea was all of the Australian bowlers were bowling to right-handers in the first Test match. At no point in time was the monotony broken. They were able to settle into a line and put pressure,” Boria Majumdar said.
“But Ravi’s idea was if you get two left-handers into the mix, Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja, the right hander will benefit. Ravi’s point was very clear, get these left-handers into the mix. And another idea was that if the two spinners bowl in tandem, if there are footmarks for Jadeja to use, he will become a match-winner. If not, he will at least contain and ensure Australia will never run away within 4-5 years.”
Head coach Ravi Shastri maintained after the Boxing Day Test victory that India will stick to 5 bowling options as they look to make use of the winning momentum in the remainder of the Test series. The two teams will meet in the New Year’s Test in Sydney from January 7.