Kedar Jadhav – a Rising Star: Coming into the limelight with a spectacular performance in Ranji Trophy in 2013-14 season, when he finished the season as the “highest run-getter” with a tally of 1,223 runs, the 31-year old wicket-keeper-batsman of Maharashtra, earned the selectors’ nod and got a call for the ODI series against Bangladesh in 2014.
However, he could make his debut only in the fifth and final ODI encounter against Sri Lanka at the JSCA International Stadium Complex, Ranchi, on 16th November, 2014. Jadhav managed to score on 20 runs off 14 balls.
He was next drafted into the national squad for the tour to Zimbabwe in 2015. Featuring in three games, remaining unbeaten on one occasion, Jadhav notched up 126 runs at an average of 63 with 105 runs as his individual best. He also scored his maiden ODI century.
This sporadic relation with the national squad was finally cut short when he was featured in all the five ODIs in the home series against New Zealand in 2016.
Playing in all the five games he could score only 90 runs at an average of 45 with 41 runs as his personal best.
In a team playing five bowlers, Jadhav being considered as the last recognised batsman and his special ability in offspin, earned the selectors’ choice for the ODI home series against England.
The first encounter at Pune brought out the best batting abilities of Jadhav. Sent into bat at No 6, with the team score reading at 63 runs for the loss of 4 wickets in 11.5 overs, chasing a target of 351 runs, Kedar put up a partnership of 200 runs for the fifth wicket alongwith skipper Virat Kohli (122) that brought India within handshaking distance of victory.
Though, facing 105 balls, Kohli notched up the highest score of 122 runs with the help of 8 fours and 5 sixes., Jadhav’s innings was more attractive. He scored his second ODI century, facing just 65 deliveries, with 11 fours and 2 sixes.
Eventully Jadhav ended scoring 120 runs off just 76 balls aided by 12 fours and 4 sixes at an impressive 157.89, strike rate.
Appreciating Jadhav’s performance, Team India captain, Kohli said, “Jadhav’s hundred one of the best calculated innings”.
Winning the MoM award, Jadhav said, It is a great feeling that I could win a game for my country. That too at my home ground. My mom, dad, my wife, my daughter are here. I could play this long because the captain Kohli has shown us how to chase big totals. I have already missed many chances with the batting. I have also missed chances to bat with Virat and watch him closely. It”s tough to run with Virat, but I will get better.”
We he really did get better.
Unable to do anything big in the second encounter, Jadhav came into his elements in the third and final battle at the Eden Gardens.
Set to chase a target of 322 runs for a win, India plunged into a dire state. They were 133 runs for the loss of 4 wickets in 25.3 overs. Partnering Dhoni, the hard-hitting Maharashtra batsman, managed to take the score to 173 runs when Dhoni fell, caught behind by Jos Butler.
Being 149 runs behind with 24.3 overs remaining and with 5 wickets in hand, Jadhav and Hardik Pandya got together and added 104 runs for the sixth wicket, before Pandya (56, 43b, 4*4, 2*6) fell, bowled through the gate, by Ben Stokes.
However, Kedar continued the fight in the company of Jadeja (10), Ashwin (1) and Bhuvi (0) till the end of the 49th over and was batting on 80 runs with 11 fours. India needed 16 runs to win the game.
The last over bowed by Woakes was an interesting one. Jadhav sent the first delivery into the stands and moved inches towards the target. The second delivery was dispatched to the boundary and Jadhav reached 90 runs looking good for another century and getting India, a well earned victory.
Though Jadhav exhibited the cool composure of the former India skipper, MS Dhoni, he lacked the requisite ‘Dhoni’ power. Trying to send the third ball into the orbit over the covers, he could not get the distance and was caught by Sam Billings, inches into the ropes.
Thus a valiant innings came to an end and dashed all hopes of an Indian victory.
Jadhav notched up 90 runs facing 75 deliveries with the help of 12 fours and a six.
Winning the ‘Player of the Series’ award for his 232 runs from three games, at an average of 77.33 and 120 runs as his best, Jadhav said, “I was planning to play all six balls, I knew if I could do that the bowler will be under pressure. Just that the ball I got out to, I was not in position to hit the big shot, I was still moving and that is why I mistimed. The thing is, since the time I came in the team, I”ve been spending a lot of time with Dhoni and it has helped me deal with situations calmly. Specially if you pitch it up there was some movement and that is why I didn”t want to come forward, I wanted to stay back and with the dew, I knew normal shots will get me boundaries. First game when I was in the middle, with Virat, this is the time where you can learn how to finish games and that is what I told Hardik as well. If we play to our potential through the end, we would win. I was more happy if we would have won this game but I am satisfied with what I have done in this series. I can still improve.”
With such stellar performances, Jadhav has clearly made himself an integral part of the Indian dressing room and has found a permanent place in the Playing XI for the shorter formats.
Kedar Jadhav is clearly ‘a rising star.’