After India defeated Pakistan by eight wickets in their group stage Asia Cup match in Dubai, India's star performer Kedar Jadhav spoke about how he now approaches the game after undergoing surgery, and what has led to the performances that he dishes out at the international level.
Jadhav said, "It feels good to be on the winning side. I feel my fitness has improved after my surgery, and in the last four months I have learnt a lot about training and fitness. It has definitely helped me and has made me a different cricketer. Honestly, right before a match I bowl a couple of overs in the practice session, but I don't bowl a lot in the nets. I feel if I try too hard to be a bowler, I don't want to compromise on the other skills that I already have! So I try to be in my limits.
"Every time I did my rehab previously, I used to start playing and think that the problems won't come back again. Many-a-time I also used to miss my routine, but now regardless of how I feel, I start my day with either gym or running. That gives me confidence that I'm getting stronger and fitter every day, and that helps me on the field."
Indian captain Rohit Sharma also summed up his side's performance in the post-match press conference. He said, “Right from the start, we were quite disciplined. We wanted to learn from the mistakes which we made in the last game. Today was a great game for the bowling department because I knew the conditions weren’t great for it.”
India restricted Pakistan to 162, bowling the men-in-green out in 43.1 overs. While Bhuvneshwar Kumar was named man-of-the-match for his bowling performance, Jadhav was equally instrumental, taking crucial wickets in the middle of the Pakistan innings and finishing with figures of 9-1-23-3. Speaking about Jadhav’s performance, Rohit said, “He (Jadhav) has been working on his bowling, he takes his bowling very seriously. Every now and then, he has come and done the job for the team which augurs well. Bowling those crucial overs and taking wickets are bonuses for us. Especially when Hardik got injured, it was important for him to carry on and put the team onto the right track.
“I quite enjoyed the little innings that I played (52 off 39 balls), but got out to a great delivery. It was important for us to come here and adjust. We haven't played here much and the two games that we have played now, we have understood how to create partnerships and achieve targets that we have set for ourselves. The opening partnership sets the platform for the rest to come and play freely, do their job. It was a fantastic finish by Dinesh and Rayudu as well.”
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed also reflected on his side’s performance, saying, “The start was not at all good. We lost two wickets in the first five overs. We got some momentum in the middle but again lost wickets and could not recover. We batted poorly and all of us played poor shots to get out.”
Only four Pakistani batsmen managed to get into double figures, with Babar Azam top-scoring with a 62-ball 47. Shoaib Malik and Azam put on an 82-run stand for the third wicket, but when Azam was dismissed with Pakistan’s score on 85, none of the following batsmen could stitch together a partnership as the Indian bowlers kept taking wickets at regular intervals.
Sarfraz continued, “Many of them were soft dismissals except Babar, who got a good ball. We had prepared for the two spinners but the third one (Jadhav) chipped in with wickets. It is nice to get a wake-up call early on in the tournament and we would not want to commit the same mistakes. We will come back better prepared next time.”
Finally, speaking about his performance, man-of-the-match Bhuvneshwar Kumar (7-1-15-3) said, "You always need initial wickets to get any team to a low total. It was a great bowling effort. It was also great to see Jadhav step up in the absence of Hardik Pandya. A great team effort.
"On a track where the ball doesn't swing, it's important to bowl back of a length and try to hit the stumps, give yourselves a chance. Key is not to give too many runs and force the batsmen to make mistakes. That's the best way to get them out."