Ravindra Jadeja hasn’t been as effective as Gujarat Lions would have wanted him to be since he joined the team after a break before their IPL 2017 match against Rising Pune Supergiant on April 14. In three matches so far, he has combined returns of 1 for 131, and had a really bad time against Chris Gayle in Gujarat’s last match, when he ended with none for 57.
But Shitanshu Kotak, Gujarat’s assistant coach, backed Jadeja, who became the No. 1 bowler in the ICC Test rankings following his 25-wicket haul in the four-match series against Australia earlier this year, to come good ahead of the team’s next game against Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday (April 21).
“Jadeja is one player who can contribute in all the three departments of the game — batting, bowling and fielding. He had an average last game but that can happen to any player in this format. Someone like Gayle, if he’s in full flow, he can hit any bowler,” pointed out Kotak, a former Saurashtra player, the same team Jadeja represents in first-class cricket. “He could not play first two games as he was rested. That was a big loss for us. Him, (Suresh) Raina and Dinesh Karthik are among the best domestic players we have.”
After topping the round-robin stage in their debut season in 2016 before bowing out in the playoffs, Gujarat have managed only one win from their five matches this year.
“We got a good start least season but it has not been like that this time. We lost a few close matches. In the last match (against Bangalore) the Gayle innings turned it around. He was dropped on the boundary by (Brendon) McCullum; the fielder’s hat touched the ropes. It can happen. Last year we lost five-six matches on the trot and still needed to win the last match to qualify,” offered Kotak. “This time, we have lost four matches but still there is an opportunity to win some games and script a comeback. We have to keep fighting. Sometimes luck goes here and there and someone performs outstandingly. Sometimes you get two-three wickets in Power Play … so you need to win back-to-back matches.”
When Gujarat and Kolkata last met on April 7 in Rajkot, the visitors rode on Chris Lynn’s blistering 41-ball 93 not out and Gautam Gambhir’s unbeaten 76 from 48 balls to make a mockery of a 184-run target.
The bowling has refused to come together since that ten-wicket drubbing, but Kotak felt the bowling lineup was good enough, and needed to be backed, adding, “When you are losing, everything goes against you. We have in fact a better pace attack this year with more options. When you’re losing you always feel something could have been done differently.”