Ravindra Jadeja 'hopefully good to go now' for India vs Australia Tests
He picked up seven wickets in the second innings - and bowled 41.1 overs in the match - in his comeback from knee surgery
Ravindra Jadeja's return from injury has had its hiccups but now, with a crucial Test series against Australia imminent, the India allrounder is hopeful that he is "good to go".
On Thursday, in the middle of his first game of cricket in five months following knee surgery, Jadeja picked up a seven-for for Saurashtra against Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy. He also got through 41.1 overs of bowling across two innings.
Ahead of this game, he had been rather more cautious in his outlook. "I will go slowly [when I'm bowling]," he said on Monday. "Have to see how my leg is feeling and then I will see."
But on the third day's play against Tamil Nadu, Jadeja managed to get through an uninterrupted spell of 12 overs and seemed fairly happy with the results. "I [am] used to bowling long spells," he was quoted as saying by PTI. "Nothing new for me. I was enjoying... ball was turning. The pitch was assisting me. When we were batting, the odd ball was spinning, the odd ball was keeping low, so I was keen to bowl a long spell. Luckily I got wickets."
When asked about his fitness, Jadeja said he felt "no discomfort... not really" and added that he was "almost there... it is just a matter of little bit of confidence. Luckily I bowled enough overs in the match, like almost 37 overs in the game (41.1 - 24 in the first innings and 17.1 in the second).
"So feeling very good, playing a game after a long time. Hopefully I am good to go now. It was tough on the first day but as the game progressed, I was feeling good. When you take a five-for in a first-class game it is always good."
It has been a long road back for Jadeja since he had his knee surgery in September 2022. Initial estimates suggested he might be able to return in time for India's tour of Bangladesh in December 2022 - he was named in the squad subject to fitness - but that didn't pan out. ESPNcricinfo learnt that it was only a few weeks ago that he had started to bowl and bat again. In between, he has also been helping his wife campaign in the Gujarat assembly elections, which he said helped keep his mind off the injury.
Up next for Jadeja is an India training camp in Nagpur, which will host the first of four Tests against Australia starting February 9. He was picked in this squad subject to fitness too, so a 29th first-class five-wicket haul should come in handy.