Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], January 23 (ANI): Ahead of his side Saurashtra's Ranji Trophy match against Tamil Nadu, star India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja said on Monday "he is almost ready" with regard to his fitness but indicated that he would not be taking full bowling workload in the match which marks his return to competitive cricket after almost five months.
Ahead of his side's Ranji match, Jadeja spent over three hours in practice and was also seen giving a pep talk to players. This match marks Jadeja's return to competitive cricket after he sustained a knee injury during Asia Cup last September. He will be leading Saurashtra in the match, with middle-order veteran Cheteshwar Pujara and captain Jaydev Unadkat being rested.
Both players are advised rest by the BCCI ahead of the Test series against Australia starting from February 9. Jadeja is also a part of the squad for the series, but it is subject to his match fitness. The trio is part of India's preparatory camp for the series starting in Nagpur from February 2.
Keen to shake off the rust -- his last first-class game was against England last year in July, Jadeja is looking forward to getting some game time ahead of the important series.
"I'm almost ready," he said as quoted by ESPNCricinfo when asked about his fitness.
"I was at the NCA [National Cricket Academy] for 20 days, doing batting and bowling, but the match scenario is different. I wanted to play one game before the Australia series, that is why I am here. Hopefully, I will be fully recovered to play the first Test," added Jadeja.
He underwent a ligament tear surgery in September last year and his planned comeback was halted, despite his selection for the tour of Bangladesh in late December last year in both ODI and Test sides.
Though he did not feel any knee discomfort, Jadeja hinted at taking less responsibility with the ball.
"After five months, if you play a competitive game, you don't feel confident initially," he said.
"But as you progress, you get better and better. Injuries are part of the sport. In any sport, if you get injured, you have to start from scratch. Same thing in cricket. I was out of action for five months, so again I have to build my fitness first and then slowly, once I get fit and regain my confidence, I will work on my skills and get better day by day.""You feel bad, nobody wants to get injured in the middle of your big season.""It's a part of the game. You have to keep that in mind and have to prepare for it. There is no guarantee that nobody would get injured while playing cricket. Day by day, I am getting back my confidence. I will go slowly [when I'm bowling]. Have to see how my leg is feeling and then I will see," said the all-rounder.
The star all-rounder had a solid 2022, both with bat and ball. In nine T20Is, Jadeja scored 201 runs in eight innings at an average of 50.25. His best individual score is 46 this year in the format. Besides this, he has taken five wickets, with the best figures of 1/15.
In three Tests, he scored 328 runs in five innings at an average of 82.00. He had smashed two centuries in the longer format of the sport. His best score is 175 that he scored against Sri Lanka. He had also taken 10 wickets in this format with the best figures of 5/41.
In three ODIs, he scored 36 runs in two innings at an average of 36.00. His best score in format was 29. He has also taken a wicket in the format.
In 114 matches and 169 innings, Jadeja has amassed 6,579 runs at an average of 46.65. He has 12 centuries and 34 half-centuries in the format, with the best score of 331. He has 453 wickets to his name, with the best bowling effort of 7/31.
India's Test squad for the first two Tests against Australia: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), R. Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat and Suryakumar Yadav. (ANI)