Kedar Jadhav scored 1,223 runs at an average of 87.35 including six tons in the 2013-14 Ranji Trophy season © PTI (File Photo)
Kedar Jadhav has been in terrific form since the 2013-14 domestic season and carried it into the Quadrangular series Down Under, where he played a huge role in India A’s triumph. The leading run-scorer in First-Class cricket in the 2013-14 domestic season, Jadhav adds dominance to consistency, which makes him a good prospect. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes why Jadhav should be picked for the Indian one-day side soon.
There is something about Kedar Jadhav that strikes you when you meet him. Short in stature, Jadhav has this enormous self-belief and confidence that is rarely found in those who have toiled in domestic cricket for years. He is uncomplicated and clear with what he wants to do — something that is mirrored in his approach to batting. “I have to maintain this consistency in any format. Physically, I need to get stronger I feel. Because I am expecting that at some point in this year, I’ll get picked for India. So I am trying to work on things necessary so that I play for India,” he told CricketCountry after his magnificent ton in the Ranji Trophy final this year. And, a few months down the line, he was on the flight to Bangladesh, donning the India jersey for the first time.
Though Jadhav did not made his One-Day International (ODI) debut then, he now has a good chance of getting into the Indian side. During the recently concluded Quadrangular series Down Under, Jadhav was the star for India A, smashing 225 runs in four games at an average of 56.25 with three fifties. Yet again, his strike-rate of 119.68 lived up to his reputation of being a free-stroking batsman. It isn’t just about the runs, but the situations he dealt with that reflect his performances in this tournament.
Jadhav did not play the initial games and came in later. In his second game of the tournament, which was against the National Performance Squad, Jadhav walked in at 49 for three, when India A were chasing 235 for victory. Jadhav dealt with that situation with ease as he smashed 87 off only 53 balls. Though he was dismissed with India A at 175 for six, the knock had blended in some much needed confidence as Sanju Samson took over from there. Out of the 126 runs that were scored while he was in the centre, Jadhav had smashed 87 — a detail that reflects his dominance.
Against Australia A as well, Jadhav walked in at a similar stage, with India A chasing 229 and were 38 for three. He walks in and smashes 52 off 50 balls to put them on course and set things up for the lower middle-order. But, the most notable performance came in the final when he walked in at 51 for three in the 11th over with India going for 275. Yet again, he crafted a quick knock as he smashed 78 off 73 balls. Ultimately, Rishi Dhawan and Akshar Patel saw it through.
This is evidence of Jadhav’s temperament and the fact that he has matured as a batsman. In all the three games, the situation demanded the best out of him and he delivered. It was due to his efforts that India A were able to chase down those scores as that set them on course. One has to go back to domestic cricket to analyse his growth as a batsman. Jadhav was often the man who dazzled and threw it all away in that one stroke. That was confidence yes, but not of use to his side.
In 2012-13, Jadhav scored his triple ton, but then realised he should spend more time at the wicket. A player of his ability can do more damage by taking time at the crease and piling the pressure on the opposition. “I stopped playing the ball in the air too many times early in the innings. That is one big difference,” he said when asked about the change in his game. Surendra Bhave, the Maharashtra coach echoed similar views in an interview with CricketCountry earlier this year, “Kedar is one of the most talented players to emerge from the state of Maharashtra. Earlier, he used to play those brisk and breezy knocks, but then used to fizzle out. However, he has matured this season (2013-14) and has focused on building an innings, similar to what he did during his triple-century last year. He has to take his time in the middle and respect the bowlers early on.”
At the crease, Jadhav is good to watch. He uses his hands and picks the ball early; not shying away from playing across the line. There was one shot this writer remembers: During the Ranji Trophy final, Jadhav flicked one off middle-stump and sent it carpeting past mid-off. It was timed so beautifully that the fielder hardly moved by the time it went to the boundary. Though he has cut out the risk of playing in the air early in the innings, he manages to score freely. A strike-rate touching 80 last season shows how he can dominate right through. Plus, he was also the leading run-scorer with over 1,200 runs. During the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014, Jadhav showcased his ability yet again as he scored quite easily in his limited opportunities down the order.
This is perhaps the time to pick Jadhav as he has been in great touch for a long time. Consistency is one thing, but add dominance to that. You have a complete package in this Maharashtra batsman. Touching 30, not many would have given a cricketer a chance of making it through to the Indian team. But, Jadhav is powered by that confidence and that is what is keeping him in the race. He has certainly thrown his hat in the ring!
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)