Jadeja carried injury into the series, reveals Shastri

Head Coach's comments raise more questions without any answers

Addressing the media here at the MCG on Sunday, Shastri, in his usual bluster, took a dig at critics back home before going on to explain the sequence of events that led to Jadeja being benched. (Reuters File Photo)

Head Coach Ravi Shastri gave a new spin to the controversy over not playing Ravindra Jadeja in the second Test at Perth by claiming that the left-arm spinner wasn’t even 80 per cent fit to be picked in the XI.

India went with an all-pace attack at Perth looking at the green wicket, but they badly missed the services of a spinner on a pitch where Australian offie Nathan Lyon came up with a man of the match performance and helped hosts level the four-Test series 1-1. The decision to exclude Jadeja came in for all-round criticism, with former India players, including Sunil Gavaskar, questioning team management’s whimsical selections.

In his post-match comments, skipper Virat Kohli stood by team’s choice to play four fast bowlers saying, “We as a team didn't want to think that we definitely wanted to consider a spinning option on this pitch, especially having a look at the pitch on day one and how we thought it would play on the first three days, and exactly played out that way. We thought a fast bowler is going to be more productive and more helpful for us as a team."

Addressing the media here at the MCG on Sunday, Shastri, in his usual bluster, took a dig at critics back home before going on to explain the sequence of events that led to Jadeja being benched.

“When you are millions of miles away, it is very easy to fire blanks,” thundered the former India all-rounder when asked if team management should have played a spinner. The Mumbaikar then went on to disclose that Jadeja wasn’t fit coming into the series that may just open a Pandora’s box.  

“Problem with Jaddu was that he had taken an injection four days before coming to Australia because of some stiffness in his shoulder and it took a while for that injection to settle down. So, when you look at Perth, we felt he was about 70-80 per cent fit and we didn’t want to risk that in Perth. If he is 80 per cent here, he will play, that’s the answer,” he reasoned.

Fair enough, but then this begs a few more questions. If Jadeja wasn’t even 80 per cent fit, why was he included in the final 13 a day before the match? If according to Shastri, they wanted a spinner, Kuldeep Yadav was always there. And if Jadeja was not completely fit, why did he come on to the field as a substitute both in Adelaide and Perth for so many overs, running and throwing from the deep putting stress on the same shoulder that’s supposed to be “stiff”?    

Bafflingly, Shastri revealed that Jadeja carried the injury into the series. “When he came here (to Australia), he felt some stiffness and he felt that in India as well but he played domestic cricket after that. Still, he felt stiff in the shoulder and he was injected again, and it takes time to settle. It has taken longer than we expected, and we wanted to be careful. The last thing you want is someone breaking down after 5-10 overs and then we are stuck for players to pick for Melbourne and Sydney (Tests),” he said.

Does that mean there is no communication between the selectors and the physio Patrick Farhart? If there was, why did the selectors pick the player? And if they were told he would recover in time, shouldn’t physio’s credentials be questioned? Already, the team management has come under fire for keeping the injured Prithvi Shaw in Australia by wrongly assessing the Mumbai batsman's recovery period only to send him back in the course of the second Test.

When asked about comments from former eminent cricketers questioning team management’s strategies, Shastri said: “We have to do what’s best for the team, as simple as that. A question was asked about Jadeja which I answered, and I don’t think there was any other selection dilemma if there was then not my problem.

"(Critical) comments are (coming from) too far away (India), we are in the southern hemisphere.”

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Jadeja carried injury into the series, reveals Shastri

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