Kedar Jadhav has been a star for Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy 2013-14. Nishad Pai Vaidya revisits Jadhav’s coming of age in domestic cricket.
With 1,223 runs at an average of 87.35 and six tons to show in the Ranji Trophy 2013-14, Kedar Jadhav leads the charts by a mile. Those statistics are stupendous on plain sight, but there is another detail that puts Jadhav’s exploits into perspective. The aggressive right-hander plundered those runs at a strike-rate of 80.30. It only bears testament to his impact on Maharashtra’s remarkable season, scripting those amazing match-winning knocks.
Watching Jadhav bat is entertaining. Short in stature, Jadhav cuts an interesting figure as he literally stands “tall” at the crease. The bat comes through with a flourish, shots in front of square are guided with the artistry of the wrists. And, he does assert his authority with strokes that can demoralise a bowling unit. His ton during the final against Karnataka saw the more dominant side, that is the opposition, spread their field. While it was a tactic they persisted with for other batsmen as well, it was Jadhav’s initial assault that saw that change. It does reflect how the opposition rates him and his game changing abilities.
Since his debut in 2007-08, Jadhav has often been stereotyped as a limited-overs player due to his aggressive approach. In fact, statistics would also support that belief. Before the just-concluded season, he had averaged over 50 only once. Besides, he had scored only four First-Class tons in six seasons. In the Indian Premier League (IPL), he represented Delhi Daredevils and Kochi Tuskers Kerala, giving a glimpse of his destructive abilities. Jadhav says, “I hadn’t scored too many runs or the big hundreds in First-Class cricket. Comparatively, I had scored more runs with the white ball i.e. in List A and the IPL. A year ago, it may have been fair [being branded a limited-overs player]. But, now I don’t think that. I bat well in any format.”
Thus, for a batsman of such enormous talent, it may have been frustrating for the Maharashtra supporters to watch him throw away those good starts. During the 2012-13 season, he did score a triple ton to show that he could play the long innings. However, it is only during this season that he has shown remarkable patience, if you may call it, as he still manages to score at a remarkable strike-rate. But, Jadhav has only cut down risks early in his innings. “I stopped playing the ball in the air too many times early in the innings. That is one big difference,” he says.
In 2013, Jadhav made it to various India representative sides. In January, he scored 52 not out against England A and was then picked for the Board President’s XI against Australia in February. Later in the year, he also featured for India against West Indies A and New Zealand A. That experience helped him, and in a way showed that he was on the selector’s radar. “It was obviously a good experience playing against an international side. A lot of those players are now playing for the respective national sides. It was a good experience to play West Indies A and New Zealand A,” he said looking back at the experience of playing at a higher level.
Maharashtra had to play in Group C this season, where bowlers may not have been of the same quality as the top tiers. Some may attribute Jadhav’s prolific run to that, but he has performed against the top sides in the knockouts. In the big game, the quarter-final against Mumbai, his ton sealed the deal and plundered Mumbai during the run-chase. His new found approach was evident as he took his time and then tried his hand at aeriel shots. “Yes, that is my favourite because it helped the team win. It was the quarter-final and we were up against a strong opposition,” Jadhav recalls.
With the weight of these statistics behind him, it would be tough to ignore Jadhav. The road for him may restart with the representative sides, to have a shot at the higher level. At the age of 28, Jadhav isn’t the youngest prospect around, but he is quite positive. For his dream, he is leaving no stone unturned and is working on his game to raise the bat. “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,” Jadhav says with hope.
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