The thinking behind leaving Ravindra Jadeja out of the Perth Test is getting murkier. Soon after the defeat, skipper Virat Kohli specified that the four-pronged pace attack was picked purely on conditions rather than fitness and form, that he would have overlooked lead spinner Ravichandran Ashwin even if he had been fully fit, implying that Jadeja didn’t stand a chance of playing
But, three days before the third Test, coach Ravi Shastri contradicted the captain and gave a fresh spin to the debate, saying Jadeja was only “70-80 percent fit” at Perth and carrying a shoulder stiffness from domestic cricket. Thus, in trying to defend the selection faux pas, he has prompted questions on a range of issues, ranging from player injury-management system to the contradiction in the voices of the coach and captain, workload management, and the tendency to hush-up injuries.
The team has been copping flak, especially from former cricketers back home, for playing a four-pronged pace attack in the Perth Test, where a spinner was dearly missed. Since Ashwin was ruled out due to injury, the obvious alternative was Jadeja. But Shastri, with his characteristic gung-ho style, came up with a reason: “Problem with Jaddu was that he had taken an injection four days into 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 percent fit, and we didn’t want to risk that.”
What’s even more shocking is that despite the stiffness, which according to Shastri Jadeja picked before a domestic game — he played only one between the West Indies series and the Australia tour, wherein he scored an unbeaten 178 and bowled 64 overs — he boarded the flight to Australia. It wasn’t as if the management was unaware of his injury, but they thought, at least according to Shastri, that he will recover in time for the series. “When he came here, he felt some stiffness, and he felt that in India as well, but he played domestic cricket after that. He was injected again and it takes time to settle. It has taken longer than we expected, and we wanted to be careful. We didn’t want a scenario wherein the player pulls out after five-ten overs in a Test,” Shastri explained.