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Accuracy, 'straight ball' weapon bring rewards for Jadeja

Ravindra Jadeja's press conference was hilarious. It will most certainly be lost in translation, but it is worth reproducing it for the benefit of those who understand Hindi in its entire colour because what he said was instructive.

He was talking about why India didn't ever feel they were in threat of ceding the advantage despite there being three partnerships in New Zealand innings, especially the 124-run stand between Kane Williamson and Tom Latham.


"Ab turning track pe ek partnership hoti hai. Uske baad naya batsman koi bhi jayega, uske liye itna footmarks dekh ke udhar unki…"

And now realising where he was going, Jadeja stopped. What usually follows this is beeped on TV. Or asterisked as its loose translation in text here will be. What Jadeja meant was one big partnership is always expected but it is no big deal on such turning tracks because when a new batsman comes in and he sees the footmarks and the rough, he goes…

That's where he stopped himself. What usually follows in Hindi can be loosely - and very loosely indeed - translated to, "He goes holy f***." Had he said the whole sentence it wouldn't have been funny. The fact that he stopped himself was what made it hilarious. He stopped talking clichés and let himself go in a language he was most comfortable with, but also had the awareness to stop himself when he was about to say something he shouldn't be.

The way Jadeja spoke of how the match went showed the confidence India went into the match with. New Zealand tried their best, but in hindsight did they really stand a chance? The batsmen couldn't pick from the hand which balls were going to turn and which were going straight on. Loose balls were few and far between. Fielding, especially catching, was at its best. On such a turning track six wickets were lbw, which in itself is testament to how accurate Jadeja and R Ashwin were.

Jadeja said the accuracy bit was discussed with both Anil Kumble and Ashwin. "He [Kumble] told me to go wide on the crease and bowl around the sixth stump for the left-hand batsmen because there was rough there. He told me to target putting as many balls as possible in that rough because from there, some balls were turning and some were going straight. That would have created doubts in the batsmen's minds, so that's what we spoke of.

"Ashwin and I spoke of bowling at the stumps. Adjust our lines so that after the turn the ball ends up on the stumps. We knew we'll get maximum chances if we kept the threat of lbw or bowled alive. There wasn't much turn from the stumps so our initial plan was to string together maiden overs. We needed to give up fewer runs and that would also create pressure on them. Finally we executed our plan."

Jadeja also said they were aware of the lack of experience in the New Zealand batting. He said they knew there weren't many who could play a long chanceless innings.

Jadeja's biggest threat on such turning tracks is the straighter balls that he picks. New Zealand have said they don't pick him from the hand, and they try to play him off the pitch. Jadeja wasn't giving out his secrets although it is quite possible that on turning tracks it is the natural variation that carries balls straight. In the process he did compare this Kanpur track to the under-prepared tracks he grew up playing on in Saurashtra.

"We didn't have very well prepared grounds and pitches growing up. These are the kinds I've been brought up on, the kinds where there were no groundsmen and we were just practising," Jadeja said. "The facilities we had were of that kind, so having played on such pitches, I've got an idea of how to bowl, which areas to bowl on, what speed to bowl at. From my childhood to Under-17, Under-19 till now, I've played on turners or unprepared pitches. Having played so much on them, I've got an idea now."