Mohali: All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja on Saturday said he always feared being labelled as a player who excels only in domestic cricket and desperately wanted success at international level.
Jadeja made a good comeback to the Indian Test team as he scalped five wickets in South Africa's second innings today and bagged the Man-of-the-Match award.
The left-hander was drafted into the Indian team after taking 38 wickets for Saurashtra with his spin bowling in four Ranji Trophy matches this season.
"I thought I have to do well for India too. I can't relax, otherwise you get an image that you do well only in domestic cricket. That you don't do well in international cricket. Personally I was worried about that more than anything, that you don't want that label that you do well only in Ranji Trophy or domestic cricket. I wanted to do well in international cricket too," Jadeja told reporters.
Talking about team's strategy for the series-opener, Jadeja said they were clear what they needed to do.
"The game plan was to make spinning wickets because other team's strength was pace bowling. That's why we thought we would play spinners and play on turning tracks. When the wickets came in the first two-three matches, confidence followed by itself. There was a different confidence in me now."
The bowler, who ended up with a match haul of 8-76, though said that the much-hyped I.S.Bindra pitch was not as bad as it was made out to be.
"The three Ranji Trophy matches that I played in Rajkot was even worse than this. This looks a very good wicket by comparison. Feels good as an Indian spinner to bowl in our own conditions. When the ball is turning and the wickets are coming, you get that confidence and then the ball comes out properly from your hand.
"It drops where you want it to drop. It's good that way, I am getting wickets too, so I was just enjoying my bowling," he said with a smile.
The 26-year-old though said he enjoyed the break he had after being left out of the team.
"I last played in the ODI series in Bangladesh. I was out of the team after that. There was a break of two-three months so I thought let me enjoy my horse riding. It was a good time. Just rode horses. When Ranji Trophy was about to begin, about one month before that I began practising and working out."
Keeping things simple on a turning track was his mantra for success and he said, "Everybody in the stadium knew the ball was turning. Just had to put it in the right place. Sometimes when the ball is turning, a bowler can try too many things. I just wanted to not give boundaries when the wickets weren't coming."
Jadeja felt since majority of South African batsmen lacked experience of playing in Indian conditions, it benefitted the hosts.
"Their team had only three players who had played five or six Tests in India. Most of the others have played either one or not at all in India. That also could be a factor, that possibly they didn't know how the wicket would be, how much it would turn, how many would go straight on. We had that advantage.
"It wasn't as if we just turned up and bowled and got wickets. We all bowled well. It takes effort, everybody in the team put in that effort, took the catches, scored the runs. Everybody played his part. In a low-scoring match, these small contributions go a long way."
Jadeja's no ball that gave AB de Villiers a reprieve in the first innings could have proved costly as the star batsman went to make 63 after being on 7 when given out to the left-arm spinner. The player admitted such errors can sometimes make a big difference.
"It shouldn't happen, you are right. Actually in Ranji Trophy I didn't bowl a single no-ball. This is the first time it happened. That too de Villiers' wicket. There can't be a bigger wicket. I looked at my landing and pulled my self back because such things can cost you the match," he said when asked about the incident.