The all-rounder only joined the squad midway through tournament but made a big impact for his side in the UAE
Rohit Sharma pays tribute to Ravindra Jadeja's role in India's Asia Cup success
Rohit Sharma believes Ravindra Jadeja is a “much, much better” player after his return to India’s one-day side following over a year out.
Jadeja played a central role in India winning the 2018 Asia Cup in Dubai, and has played himself back into their plans ahead of next year’s World Cup.
India’s selectors had appeared to have looked beyond their established spin duo of Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin after losing the final of the Champions Trophy last year.
When the Asia Cup started, Jadeja was back playing domestic limited-overs cricket in India, but was given an emergency summons to UAE after injury to all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
On arrival in Dubai, he was put directly back into the starting XI, and hardly looked back. He had a positive influence with both bat and ball during the Super Four matches, then in the three-wicket win in the final against Bangladesh with a brilliant, match-turning run out.
“I don’t think it was a break - he was out of the team,” Rohit, India’s stand-in captain for the Asia Cup, said of Jadeja.
“When you are out of the team, you have that fire inside you, that burning desire to make a comeback and prove yourself.
“I think he has proved to himself in this tournament that he is much, much better than he was before.
“I clearly remember he came to the first game having flown the night before. He played a game against Bangladesh and got four wickets.
“[In the final] he didn’t bowl his 10 overs, but his batting and fielding abilities are very crucial to the team. That run out was a turning point, a way for us to get back into the game.”
Jadeja was not the only one to be afforded a chance in the absence of others. With Virat Kohli rested, India’s other batsmen had an opportunity to show their worth.
KL Rahul scored 60 in the one match he played, while Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu averaged 48.66 and 43.75 respectively, having each featured in all six matches.
“It’s a challenge for any team, when a few of your senior players are rested,” Rohit said.
“Obviously, they will make a comeback then a few other guys will have to miss out. That has been the hallmark of this cricketing fraternity.
“Every team is doing that. Also, guys understand that. It is up to them to make it big, and make it count all the time.
“For us, as a captain or coach, we have to make sure they have that liberty to play their game, and not feel any pressure.”
Bangladesh have now lost three of the past four Asia Cup finals, and captain Mashrafe Mortaza said they need to improve.
“The boys should feel proud. At the same time, I think we have to learn from many things,” Mashrafe said.
“Every time we play this type of tournament, we are struggling in some ways. I think the bowlers have done a really good job in this tournament. The team can feel proud but we have to move forward from here.”