Jaydev Unadkat keeps the fire burning, stays hopeful of a comeback in national colours | Cricket News – Times of India

COIMBATORE: The numbers he rakes up is staggering, the line and length are spot on, his variations leave the batsmen in doubt and his consistency is nearly impeccable. Yet, following his maiden Test call-up against South Africa at the Centurion in December 2010, left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat hasn’t returned to the side again. It may be at the back of his mind, but the Saurashtra skipper hasn’t allowed that to affect him. Over the past six seasons, he has scalped 224 wickets at an impressive average of 19.5.
Apart from proving to be an able leader for Saurashtra, Unadkat has evolved as a bowler, who can deliver irrespective of the pitch or circumstances. This quality has been on ample show in the ongoing Duleep Trophy, in which he has picked up 19 wickets thus far for West Zone.
With the heart of a lion and nerves of steel, the domestic stalwart has made consistency the hallmark of his career.
On his growth over the past few seasons, Unadkat said, “I see it in two parts. Me as a red-ball and white-ball bowler. With the red ball, I have been consistent over the past 4-5 seasons. I don’t really see statistics every game, but I have been able to pick up wickets in all the games that I have played since 2015-16. At the moment, that is my strength. Give me any condition and I’m right up there in assessing it, changing the angles and finding ways to take wickets.”
On his white-ball game, he pointed out, “With the white ball, it has been a challenge. With the way I started in the IPL, after the 2017 season I’ve had ups and downs. But after the Covid-break, I am better equipped in swinging the new white ball and that’s what was on show in the Vijay Hazare last season. I could swing the new white ball more than before. I have become better, but white ball is always a learning process, trying to bowl those yorkers consistently and a couple of variations as well.”
Assessing conditions and situations is surely Unadkat’s strength. A case in point is the ongoing Duleep Trophy final here. In the first innings, the pacer came wide of the crease from around the wicket while angling it in before taking it away, which earned him rich rewards. Without much assistance from the pitch in the second innings, he brought the ball in from around the wicket.
Spelling out his strategy, Unadkat said, “From the first innings to the second, the pitch becomes a little slower and keeps low as well. I was taking the ball away in the first innings, that is my strength but when I start bringing one in, it creates a doubt in the batsman’s mind that there can be an inward movement at any point of time. Just to create that doubt I try to bowl inswingers from around the wicket time and again.”
An aging kookaburra red-ball, which gets softer, is a key challenge Unadkat has been able to overcome. On the difference between an SG and kookaburra ball and the challenges from the latter, he revealed, “It is a different challenge. The kookaburra ball gets a little softer. The SG ball tends to be hard for more number of overs and that is why it reverses a bit more in our conditions. But this ball is hard to reverse. The leather is not similar to the SG ball. Using the new ball and bowling longer spells right when the ball is nice and hard is crucial. That’s what we felt and learnt from the first match. Once it becomes old, it is about how much effort you can put in. You bowl shorter spells but intensity has to be right up there. Also, lengths must be accurate. You can’t bowl short, plan bouncers and stuff like that with this ball.”
Unadkat’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed and he was seen having a long conversation with national selector Sunil Joshi on Saturday.
On the talk with the selector, he said, “The conversation was about being in a good rhythm. It is going to be a long season and a lot of players are getting injured. So, the break might come. Whenever it does, the only thing in my hand is to stay fit and keep bowling in the same rhythm.”
In the six Test matches that Ajinkya Rahane has led India, they have won four and drawn two. Leading the West Zone team, Rahane has been inspirational.
Unadkat, who has tasted success as a Ranji Trophy winning skipper, was all praise for Rahane.
“Rahane has played a huge role. Not just in terms of experience, there are a lot of experienced guys around. You need that mindset where you constantly speak to the bowlers and wicketkeeper and assess the conditions and what’s happening off the wicket. Rahane is one of the best. I have seen in these three games that he is one of the better judges of the game, where he reads the situation well. Full credit to him for the way he has spoken to us and led the team like a champion.”
As he prepares to marshal Saurashtra against Rest of India in the Irani Cup next month, Unadkat is looking to draw inspiration from Rahane.
“As a captain, I can learn a lot from Rahane. The way he assesses the conditions. Not just here but also the first game in Chennai where there wasn’t much happening. The way he did the field placements and played around with the field, that is something I can learn from and add to my captaincy skills. Hopefully that can help us as Saurashtra team to win some games when nothing much is happening from the pitches,” he signed off.

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