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Jadeja credits Kohli for gritty hundred on tough wicket

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Kolkata: Ravindra Jadeja heaped praise on Virat Kohli for his record-breaking ton here at the iconic Eden Gardens on Sunday that laid the foundation for India’s huge win.

Jadeja praised Kohli for his record 49th ODI hundred, a feat that saw him match Sachin Tendulkar’s long-standing record, pointing out how he navigated the team through a tricky phase in the afternoon on a slow, turning wicket at the Eden Gardens.

“In the afternoon, there was a turn and it was slow, so batters couldn’t hit well,” Jadeja said at the post-match press conference.

“But credit to Virat and the middle-order batters who handled their spinners, it was very good,” he said.

“I would say this is special for him as well because of the way the wicket was in the afternoon. At one time, it felt like 260-270 was also fine, and at that time, rotating the strike and taking boundaries, I think that must have been very challenging,” Jadeja said.

“So, especially when the team was struggling to get a run, both their spinners were bowling well, and at such a time to rotate the strike, to take boundaries, and to get a score of above 300 and not be out—that is a very big achievement and a very big effort from him,” he concluded.

The middle overs saw South Africa’s spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi bring down the run rate after Rohit Sharma got India off to a flier. Maharaj’s dismissal of Shubman Gill with a delivery that turned square gave a hint of the challenge awaiting the Indian batters.

But an unflustered Kohli, with solid support from Shreyas Iyer, carried India through the tricky phase. The Proteas head coach, Rob Walters, also agreed that his side conceded way more than he would’ve wanted and averted any blame on the pitch itself.

“I think it would be very shortsighted and unfair of me to blame the pitch,” Walters said after the game while addressing the media.

“One side gets 320, and we get bowled out for 80. That doesn’t sound right, does it? he questioned.

“So, to be fair, as I said, 320 was too much on that pitch. I think we’ll all reflect on that and say that that was probably 70 or 80 too many. But on the other side, I think India was excellent. And I wouldn’t blame the pitch on that part,” Walters said.

Meanwhile, Jadeja revealed that the decision to bat first was made to challenge the batting on a slow pitch and to see how the bowlers would adapt to dew later in the evening.

“After winning the toss, we were trying to challenge ourselves. Because if we had bowled in the afternoon, we might not have scored so many runs,” he said.

“As I said, the ball was stopping a lot, and there was no bounce. And the turn was increasing. It was continuously turning,” Jadeja said.

“So, it was a challenge for us to take first batting, and in the second inning, if the dew comes, how can we bowl with the dew? Because if such a situation comes in the knockout stage, we should know how to handle that situation. That was the only reason,” he added.

India went to the top of the points table with the whopping win, their eighth on the trot, while South Africa, who have also made the semi-finals, will hope to take learnings away from the game ahead of the knockout phase.

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