Utility Man Kedar Jadhav Comes To Indias Rescue India Vs Pakistan Match 5 Asia Cup 2018 > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Utility man Kedar Jadhav shows bowling worth

Cricket news - Utility man Kedar Jadhav shows bowling worth

"Since the time Dhoni asked me to bowl in the New Zealand series, my life has completely changed."

It was in Dharamsala in 2016, when this idea was brought to life. The then captain-coach pair of MS Dhoni and Anil Kumble were impressed with what they saw of Kedar Jadhav, the bowler.

His initiation into bowling in India colours came during the home series against New Zealand that year, where he troubled left-handed batsmen and even earned some peculiar praise from Dhoni.

"I have no clue how he gets wickets, that's the reality of it," Dhoni had said, before making a point that resonated on Wednesday: "It is important that someone in the top 5-6 gives you some overs so that there's no pressure on Hardik to complete his 10."

Since this little discovery from the duo, Jadhav's role in the Indian team has been two-fold and hand-in-hand with the team's trusted all-rounder Hardik Pandya. With none of the top-five batters making bowling contributions - Rohit Sharma hasn't bowled in ODIs since January 2016 - Jadhav is now expected to shoulder the finisher's role and then split the 10-overs quota of the fifth bowler with Pandya. It's an arrangement that allows India to keep hold of their favourite team composition that involves four frontline bowlers and Hardik Pandya, with Jadhav chipping in as the sixth bowling option.

On Wednesday though, he had a bigger role to essay. Pandya suffered an acute lower back injury and was taken off on a stretcher in the 16th over. By then, Pandya had bowled 4.5 overs, which meant Rohit Sharma needed to get at least 31 deliveries of Jadhav's stingy off-spin while also ensuring Pakistan weren't let off the hook.

Between the 23rd and 40th over, Jadhav bowled nine on the trot and destabilized Pakistan's batting effort by dismantling their middle-order. A flighted full ball lured Sarfraz Ahmed into a mistake, after which Asif Ali and Shadab Khan fell prey to his darts full and outside the off stump. It was also a spell that had 34 dot balls, crippling Pakistan further through the middle-overs in the process.

Even as he finished the game with his best ODI figures, a robot-like dedication to not digress from his stump-to-stump brief in the lure of populating his wickets tally is still very evident. No wonder then, his immediate reaction to his first-ever three-wicket haul was: "My role in the team is to contain batsmen and in that process if I get a wicket, it's fine."

In the press conference a few hours later, he elaborated further and even let the media in on a training 'secret'. "My bowling is all about trying to read the batsman, My plan is to bowl stump to stump, if you score, it's fine but if you miss, wickets are there for me."

"Honestly, I bowl one or two overs before the match at training. I don't bowl much at the nets. I feel if I try and become a bowler, I will lose whatever I have. So I stay within limits (laughs)."

This moment of joy has come to Jadhav after a six-month period of pain and extreme frustration. Following an injury in the IPL, he had to spend time on the sidelines when India toured England. It spoke volumes of his utility that immediately after he regained full fitness through a rigorous period, he found himself in the squad and drafted straight into the playing XI.

And he just carried on from where he'd previously left off. Against Hong Kong, he bowled seven overs for 28 runs - involving 25 dot balls - through a very important middle-phase, keeping a lid on the boundaries and ramping up the pressure in chase.

"In the last six months, I've been injured more than three times on my left hamstring. After the IPL, again I got injured, so we decided to go for surgery. I feel after the surgery it has definitely helped me fitness wise, I don't have it in my mind that I will get injured again. In the last four months, I've learnt a lot about training and fitness, and it has definitely made me a better cricketer."

"Previously, when I got injured, and I returned to play after rehab, I used to feel I'm fit and it [injury] won't come again. Many times I used to skip my routines. But after the third time, regardless of how I feel, everyday I start my day with training: both gym and running. So that gives me confidence that I'm getting stronger and fitter everyday, and that helps me on the field.

In 42 ODIs so far, Jadhav has bowled all 10 overs in a match just once. The nine he unfurled on Wednesday was the second-most number of overs he has ever bowled in an ODI. Sometimes there are matches when the captain doesn't even have to turn to him at all. But when he does, Jadhav's ever-ready to frustrate - first with his low-arm bowling action and then the accuracy.

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