Haryana not overawed by Tendulkar factor - Jadeja
Ajay Jadeja, the former India allrounder, finds himself playing a part in what is likely to be Sachin Tendulkar's final domestic match and, while relishing the prospect of an unexpected encounter, says his team won't be overawed by the occasion.
Jadeja, who came out of retirement to lead Haryana in the Buchi Babu tournament, and will now do the same against Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy, says he isn't quite sure of the role he'll be able to play on the field at his age - bordering 43 - apart from mentoring the side.
He denied there was any pressure on his players to push themselves more because of the hype surrounding the game. Instead he felt it was a rare chance for them to test themselves against someone like Tendulkar. "The match is going to be played on the ground. Whether there is hype or no hype there is no player who turns up not wanting to do his best. This is a player's career, his life.
"It's wonderful to have people watching because if there's interest in the game and people talking about it, it can only inspire you. That encourages our team to go out there and do what needs to be done. It's not as though you can do something extra just because of the hype.
"The coach needs to tell people not to get overawed all the time. We are looking at this as an opportunity to play against the best in the world. You always have a shot when you walk on to the park. This is not an under-15 team. Sachin Tendulkar will have an effect, but the squad is full of professional first-class cricketers, so they'll be looking at it as a chance to play against the greatest ever."
He paid tribute to Tendulkar's longevity. "I've been watching him for 30 years," Jadeja said. "He is enjoying the game today as he did when he started off. For a player any match, whether it is his first or last, is about enjoying the game. I have never seen him do anything different in any match. he always gives it everything.
"Some of us were fortunate to spend time with him. He is considered the god of cricket, so to have been able to spend that time with him, on the field and travelling, I consider myself lucky, at least I can tell my kids about the times I spent with him. The last memory is of beating them in Mumbai. That's the last memory I carry of a Ranji encounter against Sachin."
Jadeja remarked that there was no need for people to go to France - a reference to Zaheer Khan's trip to meet with fitness expert Tim Exeter - when they had facilities in the country such as the ground in Lahli. "It's wonderful for us at Haryana. We've been here a few weeks, we live at the ground. There are nets available all day. The facilities at the ground are terrific. We have indoor nets. If someone wants to be away from the crowd, play cricket and get fit, you don't necessarily have to go all the way to France."
The playing square had a a liberal covering of grass and Jadeja said it would help the quick bowlers. "This is my first game here. The pitch has been helpful to seamers but there have been occasions of 500-plus scores. Walking in, my first thought was wondering where they were going to mark the crease, because it all looks green at the moment on the square. So that probably gives you a little hint. Let me put it this way, I think it will help Zaheer for sure."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo