Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja spell double trouble for Sri Lanka
India No 3 Cheteshwar Pujara’s brilliant run with the bat and his Saurashtra teammate Ravindra Jadeja’s all-round contribution has continued, keeping Sri Lanka down in this series.Updated: Aug 06, 2017, 19:28 IST
May be it’s the conditions that has helped them give off their best, but the contribution of Saurashtra boys Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja has played a vital role in India’s dominant run which has seen them roll over all opposition in their last eight series. (HIGHLIGHTS | SCORECARD)
Bred on trademark subcontinent conditions, Pujara and Jadeja have relished playing for Virat Kohli’s team as India have played most of their cricket in the last two seasons in their backyard.
They are unstoppable in this series. Pujara has helped himself to back-to-back hundreds to be the batting star of the series. Jadeja walked away with the Man-of-the-Match award in the second Test for his attacking half-century and five-wicket haul in the second innings.
Pujara’s SSC turnaround
Their numbers speak volumes. Pujara began his turnaround at the Sinhalese Sports Club in 2015. This week, he returned to the venue having established himself as the backbone of India’s batting with seven centuries in two years.
Jadeja came to the fore in the 2015-16 Test home series against South Africa, claiming 23 wickets. Since then, he has gone on to become ICC’s No I ranked Test bowler with 14 wickets against New Zealand, 26 versus England, six versus Bangaldesh, 25 versus Australia, and in this series he already has 13.
Skipper Virat Kohli, who was not so sure about Pujara’s role when India played here the last time, declared the batsman has taken his game to another level.
“Pujara and Ajinkya are our two best Test batsmen, especially in the middle order. Pujara, I would give him more credit because he only plays one format for India. To be able to have that hunger and passion day in, day out working hard on his game, coming out and having those consistent performances takes a lot of mental strength.
“And he’s a guy with a lot of mental strength. He has the game. He knows how to score runs, which is the most important thing. He has evolved massively as a batter since then. All of us have, but Pujara’s game has gone to another level. If you see last season, continuing now, he’s got about 1,500 runs, which is outstanding. All credit goes to how hard he works on the game, and how he thinks about his game as well. He scores runs in all conditions we play in. That for us is the most important,” said Kohli.
The value of Jadeja on tracks offering some assistance was not lost on the Indian captain, especially when other bowlers struggled.
“Guys who have both abilities are rare to find. That’s where they’re precious. Jadeja can give you a very quick 60-70, which can turn the game. Remember Lord’s, remember Dharamsala against Australia, those are very important innings, the 90 against England in Mohali. So, it’s not just when batters are doing well, it has come under pressure also, and he has the ability. He believes in it and he’s worked extra hard in the last 10-12 months on his batting also.
“He’s bowled so much that the other discipline was left behind, but now he’s catching up in that as well. If he doesn’t bowl well on a particular day, he can score runs. Once he scores runs, then he gets confidence with the ball also. He’s always in the game, his fielding as well. He’s a very valuable cricketer for us.”