<
>

Calm self-belief takes Ravindra Jadeja to long-awaited milestone

play
Want to dedicate this hundred to my mom - Jadeja (1:41)

The India allrounder speaks about the satisfaction of scoring his maiden Test century (1:41)

A Ravindra Jadeja Test hundred. It has finally happened. He got ever so close at The Oval and was left stranded on 86. A month later, the opportunity arrived again. At his home ground. Against a West Indies attack that had a large part of its potency taken out and the rest burnt to a deep crisp.

In the 150th over of India's innings, he pushed a tossed-up delivery from Kraigg Brathwaite to mid-off, scrambled across to the other end, and leaped into the air like David Warner. That long-cherished century was his and he took a little time to soak it all in.

Jadeja was halfway to the steps going up to his dressing room, his arms spread wide and his head tilted up, listening to his heart pound against his chest, listening to the crowd bellow with pride, watching his team-mates and coaching staff on the balcony smile and clap and hoot.

"Obviously, it is always special to score a hundred," Jadeja said at the end of the day's play. "It was my first Test hundred, so it was very special for me, since it has happened in the past that I got to 80s and 90s and could not score a century. I felt bad at those times but luckily today, on my home ground I scored a hundred. I would say that it was a special day for me.

"Want to dedicate this century to my mother. It was her dream that I play for India. Today she is no more. This is a special day. I can't gift anything bigger than this to anyone. So this century is for my mother."

Jadeja is in his 10th year of international cricket and ever since that massive home season in 2016-17, he has been batting with greater belief in his ability. He has averaged exactly 50 since the start of that home season, over a span of 21 Tests. When he goes out to the crease now, he looks calmer, and has the confidence of a proper batsman, which certainly helped today because there was just so much drama.

play
0:42

Didn't expect Hetmyer to run back in the heat - Jadeja

Ravindra Jadeja looks back at teasing Shimron Hetmyer and running him out on day two of the Rajkot Test

It began when the eighth wicket fell and he was on 46. The fifty was academic, and so was the celebration. In England, he had to dust his bat and perform a sword dance with it. Here there was no need. He was in form and he was back home - that's Jamnagar, but Rajkot is close enough.

Much like they did in the city's first Test in 2016, the crowd hung onto every move their boy made, screaming when he hit straight sixes and going hush when he couldn't find a single to retain the strike, cheering when he was dropped on 78 and grumbling when Umesh Yadav was dismissed next ball.

India now had only one batsman left but Jadeja wasn't the least bit fussed. He gave Umesh a pat on his shoulder as he walked off as if he knew that come what may he'd get his beloved century. He was 21 runs away when Mohammed Shami walked in. He got them in eight scoring shots, two of them sixes.

"Today I was very calm, not in a hurry and not thinking about the runs," Jadeja said. "I was just looking to play till the last ball.

"I was just talking to myself that I don't want to play a loose shot, I don't want to play a wrong shot and get out. I was talking to Umesh and Shami as well that I need to play and score that hundred."

It caps an excellent year for Jadeja in international cricket - and yet it was only two months ago that it seemed like the team didn't want him. He wasn't picked until the final Test in England and he was only called up for the Asia Cup after an injury to Hardik Pandya.

"When you are not in the playing XI consistently and get a chance suddenly, there is obviously pressure to perform," Jadeja said. "You feel that this chance that you have got needs to be utilised. Even in England, I had that in mind that I have got a chance here and I have to do well here. I am lucky that I performed well with both bat and ball. And then at the Asia Cup, I got opportunity there and did well too.

"I am working hard to develop my game as much [as possible]. If you see in the whole of 2018, I have played only about 5-6 matches. Suddenly you get a game and you have to perform in that, you don't have so much time to think and luckily I have done well in the Test in England and this one too. Overall, I am happy with my batting and bowling."

By the sound of it, so was Rajkot.