Having led Saurashtra to a Ranji Trophy title, skipper Jaydev Unadkat says his desire to make an India comeback has never been stronger. Unadkat ended the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season with 67 wicket and produced match-winning spells in crunch games the semifinal and final and believes the rigours of Ranji Trophy has prepared him well for another stint with the Indian national cricket team.

“I still have that hunger to make a comeback. The hunger has never been stronger than this and that actually kept me going throughout the season. To be honest, it was challenging physically surviving the season. Bowling those long spells as a fast bowler in almost every game,” said Unadkat after captaining Saurashtra to their maiden trophy. “I just want to keep this phase going. I don’t want to end it here. Yes, we have won the trophy and I am the happiest captain in the world right now If I can say that.”

Unadkat was picked in India’s ODI series against Sri Lanka in early 2018 and went to play the Nidahas Trophy before being dropped. The 28-year-old had a reasonable domestic season picking up 15 wickets in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and another 12 from seven Syed Mushtaq Ali games. His Saurashtra teammate and India’s Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara agreed Unadkat had been phenomenal in Ranji Trophy and admitted it will surprise him if the left-arm pacer is not picked for India.

“I agree Jaydev has bowled exceptionally well throughout the season. If someone takes 67 wickets in a season, I don’t think there is anyone who can perform better in the Ranji Trophy. There has to be lot of importance to Ranji Trophy performance to get picked for the Indian team,” Pujara said.

“Jaydev was modest that he would not be thinking about the Indian call but I will be surprised if he is not picked in the Indian team.”

Unadkat will now shift focus on the IPL, where he has twice generated hefty sums of money for his fine outings in the domestic circuit. The growing concerns towards Coronavirus has postponed the IPL to April 15 an although the move has cast a question mark over the future of the league this year, Unadkat reveals the IPL still holds plenty of significance for him.

“The second question about IPL does matter a lot to me. I have been working harder than many guys, as hard as any other cricketer in the country to earn my rewards. It was not just the IPL on my mind at any time. Yes, there was auction happening and people were talking just about that but this was something I really wanted to (win Ranji Trophy),” he said.

“I wanted to do it for the team, I wanted to do it for myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I don’t want to play the game for something other than cricket. I started playing this game because I was so passionate about it.”