Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja played a crucial innings in the final ODI of the three-match series against West Indies in Cuttack. Jadeja remained unbeaten on 39 off 31 deliveries, partnering Virat Kohli after a flurry of wickets in the middle-order had put India in trouble. Even as the Indian captain departed, Jadeja held on to one end to guide India to victory.
In the post-match conference, he reflected on his performance in the game and his mindset before arriving at the crease.
"I think it was a very crucial innings I played because it was a decider game. When I went out to bat, I was just looking to play with Virat. The wicket was so good to bat on, you could just play with singles (instead of) looking to hit hard, you could just play according to the ball," said Jadeja.
"We lost three early wickets in the middle. That can happen sometimes in ODIs. You get a good start with the openers, but you can't get that start with the middle-order batsmen. At times, you start to think too much on what you're going to do. But the wicket was so good to bat, we knew if we play till the last ball we would chase it down."
"Me and Virat were talking in the middle that the wicket was so good. He told me to keep playing my shots, try and finish the game. Unfortunately he got out, but he told me to keep playing the normal cricketing shots, don't try to do something silly.
"After he got out, I told myself to keep playing till the last ball. I told Shardul to play according to the ball because it was coming nicely (on to the bat). We played according to merit and finished six or seven balls earlier, so that was the plan."
Jadeja revealed that the bowling had become tough towards the later stages of the first innings due to dew. Nicholas Pooran and Kieron Pollard smacked the Indian bowlers brutally in the final overs of the game.
"There was a lot of dew. The dew came in 10-15 overs into the game. Especially, the last 10 overs were quite tough as a bowler. Bowlers were unable to grip the ball. The outfield had become lightning fast to the extent that even if fielders missed the ball for a second, the ball ended up reaching the boundary. The conditions had become extremely conducive for batting and outfield was fast as well," said Jadeja.
However, he insisted that the target was not as challenging because the batting had become easy in the second innings.
"Not on this wicket (the target being difficult), because we knew that dew was going to play a big role in the later half. 340 could've been a big total because in limited-overs cricket; those 15-20 runs could've made a difference," Jadeja said.
Of late, India's problems in the fielding department have been a cause of worry. Even in the game yesterday, Jadeja and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant dropped catches during the initial overs of the game. The Indian player, who is otherwise an excellent fielder, acknowledged the problems.
"Not sure why it happened. It shouldn't have happened. In both the T20I and ODI series, we dropped many catches. We have set a high standard of fielding with young team. We'll ensure to concentrate on our catching for the next series.
"Similarily, Shreyas Iyer had spoken about preparing for the wet ball. It is quite important in the night games, the dew always plays a big factor. I think it is quite crucial. Especially in limited-overs, if you drop catches of key batsmen, it can cost you the game. So we'll focus on that more and practice harded so that we don't drop important catches next time around," said the all-rounder.
Jadeja had been in-and-out of the ODI team for some time. Even in the World Cup, the all-rounder was only included in the playing XI during the final stages of the group stage. However, Jadeja said that he doesn't 'need to prove anyone' about his abilities.
"We didn't play too much ODIs in 2019. Whenever I get the opportunity, I try to give my best. I need to prove to myself that I'm still capable limited-overs cricket. I don't need to prove anybody else in the world, I only need to prove myself," said the 31-year-old all-rounder.
Team India will return to action on January 5 when the side takes on Sri Lanka in the three-match T20I series.