New Delhi: Admitting that he spent his time with friends and horses after being dropped from the Indian cricket team, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has said that his strengthening work before the Ranji season made his chances of a comeback stronger.
Jadeja was ignored after playing an ODI against Bangladesh in June this year, but once again found favour when the selectors picked the 16-member squad for the upcoming two Tests against South Africa starting November 5.
Ravindra Jadeja. Pic/ AFP
"Couple of months before the start of the season, after I played my last ODI in Bangladesh I stayed away from cricket. I didn't go anywhere near a ground or bat or ball or did anything related to cricket.
"I had decided that I have to start the Ranji season afresh. I had decided to switch my mind off cricket and so got involved in other activities. I spent time at my farm house with my horses and spent time with my friends," Jadeja told BCCITV.
Jadeja has picked up 24 wickets in just two Ranji Trophy matches for Saurashtra, bagging a 10-wicket match haul in each game. The 26-year-old player give an insight on his pre-training regimen before the start of domestic season.
"When preparations started a month ahead of the Ranji Trophy season, I decided this is my time and I have to focus and work on my strengths and come back into the team. I played district-level matches. I thought that all the match practice that I can get ahead of the season is good.
"Whatever matches I played was an opportunity and challenge for me to perform since the upcoming series is in India. Luckily, the season started and I did well at the start itself. The timing was right for everything," he said.
"It was good thing that I could perform. Sometimes, it so happens that you have to wait for five-six months to prove yourself and get back into the (national) side. So I would say that I was lucky that things fell into place for me at the start of the season itself," he added.
After making his ODI debut in 2009, Jadeja has been a regular in the playing eleven, with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni showing enough faith in his all-round skills.
"No haven't changed much of anything. I believe that if I strengthen my natural game, develop my skills further, it would help me. I think, the way I have been playing for so many years, I have to sharpen that a bit more. I worked on ironing out the minor errors and that would only be my strong point," Jadeja said when asked about making any changes to his game while being away from international action.
"I didn't feel that there were any major changes that I have to make to my game. And then the forthcoming series is in India and my game is suitable to the Indian conditions. My plan is to keep my thinking simple and that I have to go and continue playing the way I was playing in the Ranji Trophy matches," he said.
He also spoke of some of the minor changes that he has worked on. "Not something very big. But while batting sometimes I would be in double-mind as to which shot I have to pick, whether I should hit or not hit. So that is what I was thinking about when I was playing in the Ranji Trophy, that I should have a simple plan. Whatever shot I want to play I should be able to do it single-mindedly," Jadeja said.
"When I make a decision and bat I have to commit a hundred per cent and play the shot. So I was working out small things like these around my thinking. I would (earlier) get out thinking whether I should hit or not. It was basically about shot selection and execution. I am working on reducing the error percentage. Treat a ball on its merit and not be in two minds and panic," he said.
Jadeja also talked about the mental aspect of the game, on and off the field. "If something is not going well and you keep thinking about the same things over and over again it makes things even worse. So I think you should leave it aside for a while so that you can clear your mind completely of all the issue and come back fresh," he said.
"You have to stay away from thinking over and over things. You have to de-clutter and it will only happen when you switch off from cricket and get involved in other activities and then start again fresh," he said.