Ravindra Jadeja has described his maiden international century as a “special moment”. The left-hander smashed an unbeaten 132-ball 100 on the second day of the first Test against Windies at his home stadium in Rajkot, becoming the third Indian centurion in the innings after debutant Prithvi Shaw & skipper Virat Kohli. Having played 218 international games (38 Tests, 140 ODIs and 40 T20Is), Jadeja, was unsurprisingly thrilled to get his first hundred at this level.
"Obviously, after 9 years of international cricket I am scoring a hundred, so it is a special moment," he gushed during an interview with Star Sports at the end of the day's play. "I am very happy. Whenever I reached 70-80 in the past I thought about getting a hundred but kept on throwing my wicket away.
"I have made big hundreds in the domestic circuit, so I thought I can get hundreds in the international level too. Today I told myself that I need to reach the mark. I was really happy; whenever you get your first Test hundred it gives you a lot of joy," added Jadeja, who is the only Indian to score three triple-centuries in first-class cricket.
Jadeja didn’t just contribute with the bat on day two, making an impact with the ball as well as in the field in the final session of play when India reduced Windies to 94/6. He picked up the wicket of Sunil Ambris on his very first delivery after being introduced into the attack.
He was also involved in an amusing run-out, which wouldn't really have been funny for Kohli and Co. had Jadeja would have missed that opportunity. The incident happened in the 12th over of the Windies innings when Shimron Hetmyer whipped one of R Ashwin's off-breaks towards the mid-wicket region and went for a run. His partner Sunil Ambris responded to his call but Hetmyer changed his mind. He turned back but by then Ambris was already at the strikers' end.
Amidst all the chaos, Jadeja, who picked up the ball, decided not to throw the ball and started jogging towards the bowler's end. Hetmyer saw an opportunity and started running towards the non-strikers'end. Jadeja finally saw Hetmyer making an effort and had to go for the direct hit, but from a very close distance. The ball luckily hit the stumps and brought the smiles on Indian players.
"Both batsmen were at the same end, so I thought I could easily hit the stumps. I was just walking at the stumps, and suddenly saw the batsman (Hetmyer) running. That was funny," explained Jadeja.
But what if he would have missed the stumps?
"I can't imagine that (laughs)."
The 29-year-old all-arounder from Saurashtra was also part of the Indian squad that played five Tests in England. However, Jadeja had to warm the bench for the first four games before finally getting a game for the final Test at the Oval. He straightaway made an impact by scoring an impressive unbeaten 86 and also scalped seven wickets in the match. Although India lost, the performance was a confidence booster for Jadeja.
"In England, (James) Anderson and (Stuart) Broad were swinging the ball and they were bowling on good areas,” he said. “The clouds were there too, and you don't have anything in your favor, so I just thought about scoring my fifty first. I had to score runs. I spoke to myself and spurred myself on to keep going on and on, and I feel accomplished about my batting in England.”
After impressing in England, Jadeja also made his return to the Indian ODI side after a span of 442 days after Hardik Pandya (back injury) was ruled out of the 2018 Asia Cup during the group-stage encounter against Pakistan. Jadeja was straightaway drafted into the playing XI in India's first Super Four clash versus Bangladesh. The left-arm spinner took four wickets in the match and ended the tournament with seven scalps at 22.28.
"I was playing ODI cricket in the Asia Cup after 15 months, and I needed to make a mark," said Jadeja. "I was away from the ODI cricket for a long time. I got the chance to play against Bangladesh and luckily, was able to get wickets. In ODIs, sometimes you bowl well and you don't get wickets. It was crucial; I got the opportunity and I had to prove myself, to myself and not to others. I got my ODI call-up, I got four wickets in the game, and also played a couple of crucial knocks there. I have been enjoying my cricket since then."