NEW DELHI: When India toured Zimbabwe in 2013 for a five-match one-day series under Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and Jaydev Unadkat made their ODI debuts. Left-arm pacer Unadkat, who had played a Test in South Africa in 2010, had a satisfactory series with eight wickets. Rayudu played four games and had scores of 63 not out and 33.
Rayudu earned a regular India spot, but Unadkat was left to wait due to the presence of Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami.
When the team leaves for this month’s limited-overs series to Zimbabwe, Rayudu, out of the ODI team for almost a year, and Unadkat would both be vying for a comeback. India will play three ODIs and three T20s between June 11 and 22.
Although he averages over 45 in ODIs, a dip in form led to Rayudu’s omission. Last year, he flopped in Australia and was out for a duck in Bangladesh. Later, he did score an unbeaten 124 against Zimbabwe at Harare, but that wasn’t enough for him to hold on to his place. His twin ducks in the T20s against the Proteas late last year, saw him lose his spot in that format too.
OMISSION AND RETURN
In Australia last year, MS Dhoni lost patience after his 23 off 56 balls, dropping him. Rayudu though has regained confidence. In the last Ranji season, he played four matches, aggregating 170 runs. In the IPL, he scored 334 runs in 13 games for Mumbai Indians.
Lack of genuine pace has hurt Unadkat. However, he claimed 40 wickets and scored 343 runs to help Saurashtra reach the Ranji final. His selection still raised eyebrows as he had played one IPL game for KKR, conceding 50 runs.
“This will be an extremely important opportunity from me der injury, I was a bit worried. But after a couple of games I settled in. The management (which paid Rs 1.2 crore for him) said I had stepped up after Nehra pulled out due to injury. I am happy I didn’t let them down. I hope, in Zimbabwe, I can bowl just the way I did on my India debut in Australia,” said the 23-year old, who incidentally was training to be a boxer in his schooldays. and I will be looking to prove a point, especially after a superb domestic season,” Unadkat told HT. He has put the difficult Test debut behind him. “I was quite young then and wasn’t able to put up a show despite having (come off) a brilliant India A match with 13 wickets.”
Unadkat said: “I have tried to understand myself as a bowler and my game is a lot better. I realised there has to be a percentage of everything in my bowling. I will be focusing on accuracy and control. Variety has been my strength and I will try to develop a plan keeping all these aspects in mind.”
Former Pakistan great, Wasim Akram, the KKR bowling mentor, has also helped him. “I have been under his mentorship for almost three years and he has helped me improve my wrist position among other things.”