Jadeja’s comeback game: One hour in nets, pep talk with team after being named Saurashtra captain

New Delhi, Jan 23 (PTI) India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja will captain Saurashtra in their final Ranji Trophy league fixture against Tamil Nadu beginning in Chennai on Tuesday, marking his comeback to competitive cricket after close to six months.

Though Saurashtra are set to qualify for the knock-out phase, Jadeja’s return has generated a lot of interest in the game ahead of the crucial four-Test series against the visiting Australia next month.

The four-day game will effectively be a fitness test for Jadeja, and if the net session on the eve of the match is any indication, the 34-year-old is likely to pass with flying colours.

Wearing a GPS tracker that monitors all the required fitness parametres, Jadeja bowled left-arm spin for 30 minutes before spending approximately the same time with the bat.

A National Cricket Academy (NCA) trainer is also in Chennai tracking the progress of Jadeja, who had to undergo a knee surgery after playing his last competitive game in the Asia Cup in August.

Speaking to PTI, Saurashtra coach Niraj Odedra said Jadeja was oozing with energy in his first training session with the squad.

“He is very pumped up and it showed in the nets today. He wanted to have an even longer session but since he is coming from injury, it is important that he doesn’t overdo it.

“Before spending an hour in the nets, he gave a pep talk to the boys. Since he has reunited with the team after a long time, he was very keen to interact with the boys and congratulate on our recent success in white-ball cricket (Vijay Hazare triumph),” said Odedra.

“With JD (Unadkat) being rested for the game, we asked him if he could captain the side and he happily agreed. He takes great pride in playing for Saurashtra and he wants everyone in the team to feel the same way.

“He also told the team that there is no senior or junior in the side and everyone is equally important. He is a big player and we all are excited to have him back,” added the coach.

Like Unadkat, Cheteshwar Pujara too has been rested from the game as part of workload management ahead of the all-important Australia series, which India need to win to qualify for the World Test Championship final.

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