Asia Cup 2018: Fitter Kedar Jadhav becomes India’s go-to man
Kedar Jadhav claimed three wickets in India's win over Pakistan. @AFP

Pakistan sauntered into the Dubai International Stadium for match five of their highly anticipated 2018 Asia Cup clash against India well prepared to face copious amounts of spin, particularly from the wrist-spinning pair of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

While India’s spin twins combined for just one wicket, it was a disciplined bowling effort from a much fitter Kedar Jadhav (3/23) that caught Sarfraz Ahmed’s Pakistan by surprise during a thumping eight-wicket win on Wednesday. A stroll in the park, you could say, for India as compared to their previous match against Hong Kong.

At 33, Jadhav is showing no signs of throwing in the towel. On the contrary, his work ethics, specially after returning from a hamstring injury that ruled him out of the entire Indian Premier League this season, has been phenomenal.

“I feel my fitness has improved after my surgery, In the last four months, I have learnt a lot about training and fitness. It has helped me and has made me a different cricketer,” Jadhav during the post-match press conference on Wednesday.

With the Asia Cup considered a dress rehearsal for the ICC World Cup next year, Jadhav’s performance in Dubai has raised the stakes of providing the think tank of another bowling allrounder, which for now, is owned by Hardik Pandya.

Ever since MS Dhoni sprung a surprise at New Zealand in 2016 at Dharamsala during the first ODI by handing the ball to Jadhav, the part-time wicketkeeper has been a revelation. His slingy round-arm action coupled with variations in pace has created confusion in the minds of opposition batsmen. Add to that, Jadhav’s wicket-to-wicket bowling has ensured he does not concede runs.Wednesday’s Asia Cup clash saw him register a stingy economy rate of 2.55 in nine overs he bowled during the 23rd and 40th overs that completely derailed the Pakistan batting line-up. Such has been his performance with the ball that many on social media termed Jadhav the man with the ‘Golden Arm’.

It’s not just with the ball, but Jadhav has been a useful hand with the willow. With a batting average of 41.30 in 42 ODIs, Jadhav can play a sheet anchor role at the death overs and has displayed his power of clearing the boundary rope at will. Jadhav, who has registered two centuries, gave a glimpse of his batting might last year when he scored a 65-ball century against England last year in the first ODI at his home ground in Pune. India won that match by three wickets.

Fitness was the only issue why Jadhav has been in and out of the team, but after getting the green signal after the Yo-Yo test, Jadhav found himself in the squad and immediately drafted into the playing XI for the Asia Cup. And he sure did capitalise on his selection.

Ask for a contribution and Jadhav is there to deliver, with ball or bat or both, a key prospect keeping in mind the World Cup next, and one, that can be termed as India’s go-to man, right?