India comeback not on Jaydev Unadkat’s mind
Jaydev Unadkat had 11 wickets in 15 matches for Rajasthan Royals last year. (AFP Image)

His last ODI dating back to 2013, Jaydev Unadkat is nowhere near India’s World Cup selection radar. Though it doesn’t mean he’s fared badly. Unadkat led Saurashtra to the Ranji Trophy final, picking 39 wickets from eight matches, including three five-wicket hauls. Besides, Unadkat was also among the wickets in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy claiming 12 scalps from six games. (READ: Warne expecting a “hungry” Steve Smith during IPL)

To say that Unadkat deserves a chance for India on the back of a commendable domestic performance should not be an understatement. That said, the quality India’s fast bowling unit possesses at the moment, Unadkat seems pretty much out of contention. Realising how fierce the competition is within the national team, Unadkat is content waiting for his turn to come. (READ: Ajinkya Rahane on IPL preparations for Royals)

“There cannot be a better competition than what it is at the moment,” Unadkat told Cricbuzz. “Everyone has raised the bar so high, whoever wants to come knows they are competing with the best. I’ve been looking to raise my standards high as well with every single game I play, looking at them and learning things. They play every game like it’s their last game and that’s been the hallmark of this team, they play every game to win giving more than 100 percent. That’s what I’m going to do as well. I don’t want to dwell on making comebacks. Obviously, I would be the happiest when I get my chance back in the team but it’s going to be one game at a time.”

Hence, Unadkat is aligning his focus towards the IPL, a tournament in which he’s attracted some serious buyers. However, the last two seasons have been quite contrasting for him. From being the architect behind Rising Pune Supergiants’ road to the IPL final in 2017, emerging as the second-highest wicket-taker to feeling the heat the year after (11 wickets from 15 matches), Unadkat is channelling his energy and momentum towards Rajasthan Royals.

“I don’t want to keep such targets,” Unadkat said on national return. “I’ve done that in the past, I don’t want to do that now. It puts that extra bit of pressure on you which can be bad at times. As far as the IPL is concerned, the goal will be to back myself when I’m put under the pressure situations. I really want to win those 3-4 games for my team when they rely upon me to bowl that last over to win the game. I want to do it at least 3-4 times this season. That’s going to be the goal for me going forward in this IPL.”

A season which began with Saurashtra almost tasting Ranji Trophy success, Unadkat is keen to carry forward that momentum for the Royals. Under the mentorship of Shane Warne and the captaincy of Ajinkya Rahane, the Royals would be keen to better their performance from last year, where they qualified for the Playoffs upon their return after serving a two-year ban, and Unadkat in particular, is looking forward to playing a big role.

“We’ve (Saurashtra) had a fabulous season. We reached the final of the four-dayers, we did well in the Syed Mushtaq Ali as well, winning four out of six games. So the season has been fantastic. There were 3-4 youngsters who made their debuts this year and performed well. They showed the amount of talent we have and it’s about nurturing the talent to the fullest,” Unadkat said.

“If I look at it now after a good domestic season, it all comes to this, I want to enjoy every single game I play from now on. Be it a game for the Rajasthan Royals, be it a game for Saurashtra, I want to enjoy every single ball I deliver and to enjoy the feeling of just being on the field and doing the right thing. That mindset would help me to be good at my skills at pressure situations also.”