It is rare that young cricketers hit the ground running. Often they come up short in their first stint at the top level, and then analyse their game and return better and stronger.
Jaydev Unadkat, preferred over Umesh Yadav for the upcoming one-day series against Australia, too has been rewarded after having come a fair way since making his India debut as a naïve 19-year-old in South Africa in 2010.
“I’m happy for the selection and look forward to doing well now,” Unadkat said, after the national selectors included him for the first three ODIs and a T20. “I’m in good rhythm and shape. I have been working on building strength in the gym. I know it is important to bowl consistently around 135kph, not only when the ball is new.”
After impressing at the 2010 under-19 World Cup in New Zealand, Unadkat was fast-tracked into the sport’s real deal – Test cricket. South Africa is not the easiest country to tour even for experienced campaigners, and Unadkat donned the national whites for the first time in the Centurion Test. Unadkat appeared in awe of the grand setting, which resulted in a nightmarish debut. He conceded 102 runs in 26 overs without taking a wicket. Soon after, he was pulled back to the domestic grind, a move that has gradually put his career back on track.
Recalled for the tour of Zimbabwe this year, Unadkat’s pace and accuracy had improved. With eight wickets in the 5-0 ODI whitewash India handed the hosts, Unadkat finished as the second-highest wicket-taker.
The 21-year-old’s subsequent trip to South Africa with the ‘A’ team was not as effective, but he hit form against West Indies ‘A’ at home. The pacer scalped eight wickets in four games, including a fifer. “My confidence has grown after the Zimbabwe tour as I did very well. Now, I also have a better idea of my ability at the highest level,” he reflected. “I have learnt how to bowl under pressure and in the death overs. I back myself to execute plans.”