Virat Kohli has heaped praise on Ravindra Jadeja for his all-round performance in the second Test against Sri Lanka, stating that the all-rounder provided great balance to the side. Jadeja, though, was suspended for one game after breaching the ICC Code of Conduct in the second Test.
Jadeja, the world number one spinner in the ICC Test rankings, played a huge role in India’s win in the second Test, smashing an unbeaten 70 batting at No. 9, taking 2 for 84 in Sri Lanka’s first innings and then capping off with a match-winning performance by picking up his ninth five-for in the Sri Lankan second innings. And Kohli, visibly elated with the team’s performance, admitted that Jadeja has been one of the valuable assets for the team.
“Guys who have both abilities are very rare to find. That’s where we think they’re very precious, especially in the longer format because they provide you with great balance. He can give you a very quick 60-70 anywhere at any stage of the game, it can really turn the game. Remember Lord’s (in 2014), remember Dharamsala against Australia (this March), those are very important innings, the 90 against England in Mohali (last November).
“So it’s not just when batters are doing well, it has come under pressure also, and he has the ability, he believes in it and he’s worked extra hard in the last 10-12 months on his batting also,” Kohli pointed out.
“He’s bowled so much that the other discipline was left behind, but now he’s catching up in that as well. It’s only going to do good to him. If he doesn’t bowl well on a particular day, he can score runs. Once he scores runs, then he gets confidence with the ball also. He’s always in the game, his fielding as well. I would say he’s a very valuable cricketer for us.”
Sri Lanka conceded a colossal 439-run lead to India after being dismissed for 183 in their first innings. But the home side fought back during their follow-on with a stoic 191-run second-wicket partnership between Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis. However, Kohli kept rotating his bowlers to keep the batsmen on their toes, and the strategy paid off as India went 2-0 ahead in the series.
“Today we said even if we don't get wickets early on we are going to enjoy these tough times as well because they really improve you as a side," said Kohli, who became the only Indian captain to win two Test series in Sri Lanka.
"Success will come your way but you need patience. Very happy that we went through the difficult phases as well and you never get complacent as a side then."
In the recent past, India have unearthed a bunch of youngsters who still swear by Test cricket despite the instant popularity and money that T20 cricket offers. With sublime performance in last two years, they have made a conscious effort to drive home the primacy of Test cricket to a generation that has been weaned on 20-over cricket. So, it didn’t come as a surprise when Kohli threw his weight behind the five-day format.
“Test cricket is the most important thing for us. And everyone plays with a lot of passion,” he said. “If you see, in the last nine Test matches, six times we’ve got 600 runs. That shows the hunger of the batsmen. In the dressing-room, we feel really proud of each others’ efforts, that we’re really putting in those consistent, convincing performances, and winning Test matches more often than getting the other results. We really feel good as a team that we’re able to win consistently right now, but we realise that it’s very important to keep carrying on the same way as well,” the Indian Test skipper said.