Jaydev Unadkat has been the talk of the cricketing arena more for his whopping IPL auction price and gradual correction by Rajasthan Royals than his consistent performances in the domestic arena. However, in the last couple of months, the left-arm pacer has managed to get everyone talking about his skillset, thanks to his astounding returns in the Ranji Trophy.
Despite resting for the penultimate league game against Mumbai, Unadkat finished the league stage with a tally of 51 wickets in seven games at an average of 11.90.
He has also motivated an otherwise laid-back Saurashtra outfit en route to its second successive knockouts.
He stresses that a 10-day pre-season stint with Steffan Jones, the former Rajasthan Royals pace bowling coach, worked wonders and kept him “fresh and hungry” for the long season, starting “with Duleep, one-dayers, Deodhar and the Ranji”.
He made his solitary Test appearance almost a decade ago and last featured for India’s blues in March 2018, but Unadkat is only 28.
With many pacers at India’s disposal presently, ask him if he feels he has hit peak form at an inopportune time and the lanky cricketer pauses, before giving a measured response.
“Ummm… you can’t really say that. There’s never an inopportune time to peak. I am enjoying my bowling, to say the least. I have never really felt this confident about my skills.
“It’s about what I want to do as a player in my career rather than thinking about why I am doing it now than when it was actually needed,” Unadkat told The Hindu.
“There were times when I got my opportunity, I didn’t capitalise on it. What I want to do now is to stretch this period — when I am confident about my skills more than ever — longer and longer. When I get my chance again, I should be ready to grab it with both hands.”
Unadkat’s optimism seems to have rubbed off on his Saurashtra teammates. After taking over the reins midway through last season, Unadkat led Saurashtra’s charge into the Ranji final.
This time around, Saurashtra made the knockouts with a league game to spare. Unadkat seems to have done the trick with his boys again, but he shies away from taking credit.
No pre-season camps
“This is one team which doesn’t really have too much of pre-season preparation, not too many pre-season camps. We don’t really have our district games in place as well (due to extended monsoon),” Unadkat said.
“Preparation-wise, only three or four of us can actually travel and prepare ourselves by playing the Duleep or Deodhar, but most of these guys don’t really get the ideal game-time.
“Still, to come into the season, soak in the pressure of First Class cricket and perform is really a great job.”