Several things stand out about Jaydev Unadkat. The tall, wiry fast bowler puts in so much into each delivery that every now and then a loud grunt accompanies the release of the ball. He's a pure vegetarian, doesn't even eat eggs, but is open to changing this so that his career doesn't suffer. Most heartwarmingly, pace is No. 1 for him.
“The reason I started playing cricket was because I wanted to bowl fast. Things like swing come much later,” said Unadkat, who shone even as India went down to Pakistan. “When you're young you just want to run in as quick as you can and bowl fast. I still think like that, in that I want to build my body up and bowl as fast as possible.”
For the emotional Porbandar boy from the Duleepsinh College, the loss to Pakistan took some getting over. He was in tears soon after the game, and had to be persuaded to even eat dinner that evening. “It’s ok, it’s over now. Today’s a new day,” he said, with a shy smile.
Unadkat’s spell, which began with a first-ball wicket that set the tone for a fiery over, rattled Pakistan’s batsmen. “One small goal I had set for myself was that I should touch 140 kmh on these helpful pitches,” said Unadkat, who almost got there, racking up 139kmh. “This was in my mind. We were playing a shortened game. That means you have to bowl full tilt from the first over itself.”
The lanky fast bowler has got this far on the back of his natural talent. He has spent a few days at the National Cricket Academy, but so far no coach has had to make major changes to his bowling action. Coach Ram Odedra in Porbandar and Rajesh Jadeja, the former Saurashtra left-armer who coaches in Rajkot, have told Unadkat in no uncertain terms that he is a fast bowler, and should not slip into becoming fast-medium.
“No coach has told me to cut down on my pace and concentrate on swing,” said Unadkat. “But they have explained to me that if I try and bowl faster than what is in me, then I’ll lose out on swing, on control.”
The youngster has had to be careful about gym work, for he’s still growing. Often an incorrect regime involving heavy weights can hold back a growing teenager. With Unadkat still getting taller, the time for serious muscle building may come later.
Like any left-armer, Unadkat looks up to Wasim Akram, and even had the chance to exchange a few words with his hero. Ask him what format of cricket he prefers, and the answer comes effortlessly. “I love ODIs and T20s. I have played a lot of four-day cricket, but I really like playing in ODIs and T20s because bowlers are under pressure there,” he said. “I like situations like the Pakistan match where you have a chance to come into the attack in the end and do something for the team. I wait for games like that.”