Meant a lot when Pujara told me I'm ready for Test cricket: India pacer recalls star batsman's words of encouragement

Updated on May 30, 2021 04:01 PM IST

As left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat hopes to return to the Indian team, he recalled how Cheteshwar Pujara's words motivated him last year.

Cheteshwar Pujara raises his bat after a century. (Getty Images)
Cheteshwar Pujara raises his bat after a century. (Getty Images)
By, New Delhi

Given the long list of fast bowlers India have at their disposal, Jaydev Unadkat not being one of them remains a surprise. The left-arm fast bowler made his Test debut for India way back in 2010 but never again played in the format. Following impressive performances in the IPL, the left-arm fast bowler got back into the reckoning between 2016 and 2018, but despite producing prolific performances in the domestic circuit, continues to miss the cut for India selection.

Unadkat was ignored for India's tour of the UK with his name missing from the 20-member squad. In the presence of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj and Prasidh Krishna and Arzan Nagaswalla as standby players, Unadkat missed out. This was surprising in particular, because Unadkat was the leading wicket-taker in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy, picking up 67 wickets for Saurashtra. None the less, the 29-year-old is not losing sleep over it.

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As Unadkat continues to give his best hoping for a comeback into the Indian team, the left-arm fast bowler spoke about the equation he shares with Saurashtra teammate Cheteshwar Pujara, and revealed how the senior pro's words of encouragement kept him going. Saurashtra won their maiden Ranji Trophy title last year with both Unadkat and Pujara being a part of the squad.

"Cheteshwar has been a dear friend to me and we've played cricket together for a number of years. But when he said last year that I am ready to play Test cricket, that did mean something to me, because he was obviously the first one to stand and tell me if I was not doing well," Unadkat told SportsKeeda.

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"Five-six years ago when I had returned from an injury, he had told me that I had to work on my fitness. He has been honest with me and last season he told me that this is me at my best so those things do mean a lot. A couple of other guys also told me that I deserved to be there and that I would get my chance soon."

Unadkat went wicketless in his only Test appearance for India so far and has 22 wickets in the 17 limited-overs games he's represented his country in. His last appearance for India dates back to March of 2018 – the final of the Nidahas Trophy against Bangladesh.

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