Every Ranji Trophy produces a highest run-scorer. But how many do you remember? The 2013-14 season had witnessed two Maharashtra batsmen rule the run-scoring charts -- Kedar Jadhav topping it with 1,223 runs and Harshad Khadiwale with 1,004 runs. Kedar Jadhav was an attacking batsman who had earlier bagged contracts of Delhi Daredevils and Kochi Tuskers Kerala but was already 28 by then. Khadiwale, then 25, instead was considered a batsman to look out for.
Not someone to give up easily though, Kedar Jadhav kept popping up on different team lists before finally making his debut against Sri Lanka in Ranchi in 2014. He dropped off the radar before again featuring in three ODIs against Zimbabwe next year. Kedar Jadhav finally left a mark there by scoring an unbeaten 105. But it preceded another unremarkable series in Harare next year where Jadhav didn’t even get to bat in any of the three ODIs.
In a bumpy journey that started from Ranchi and traversed Harare twice without giving much stability to his career, Kedar Jadhav’s 120 on Sunday should finally remove suspicions about his limited-overs capability.
“The kind of shots he played was unbelievable. He told me it was instinctive, but such was his talent. It was outstanding --- just to have another guy that was willing to believe we can win from any situation was such a boost for me as well,” said India captain Virat Kohli after Sunday’s three-wicket win against England at Pune.
“He put a lot of pressure on the spinners, so they couldn’t come back into the game. I think it was one of the best calculative innings I’ve seen, striking at 150 was outstanding. And all clean shots, he didn’t slog the ball once. He was brilliant and that’s why we back him to play at No. 6,” said Virat Kohli.
A serious contender in ODI team
That Kedar Jadhav was seriously considered to be part of India’s ODI plans was apparent when he played all five ODIs against New Zealand in October last year. He had the chance to give India a 2-0 lead in Delhi but failed to finish a thrilling run-chase. By the time he was dismissed in Pune, Jadhav had ensured India were in a position from where they couldn’t have lost.
“He was disappointed in the last series against New Zealand when he couldn’t get us across the line,” Kohli said later, after the game. “Then he was again playing really well. I told him that the best place you can learn is out there in the middle. No point sitting outside and thinking what you could have done. So just push yourself a little more and you will understand how to do it again and again. I’m glad I was out there with him, to keep pushing him,” said Kohli.
Having shared the IPL dressing room with Kedar Jadhav last year, Kohli now perhaps knows him better than anybody. So when he was seen pushing Jadhav for a two on Sunday, it was based on the conviction that Jadhav could keep up with him. It led to cramps but that’s where Kohli’s vocal tonic came to fruition.
“Only when he was getting cramps, he was thinking about that. I told him to get the focus back on the game and take his mind off it. Push a little harder for the team,” said Kohli.
Push hard he did. In front of a home crowd chanting his name, in front of misty-eyed parents, Kedar Jadhav completed the transition from being one of those Ranji Trophy top scorers churned out every year to a player India could now depend on in the most trying situations.