Ranji Trophy: Kedar Jadhav gives a reminder of his class
His superb 128 at the Brabourne Stadium against Mumbai helped Maharashtra finish Day 1 on 314/6
In a high-stakes game seeing a contestant going about his work without a care in the world can throw any opposition off their game. In Indian cricket, Maharashtra's Kedar Jadhav is one such operator. The Mumbai cricket team are well aware of how dangerous he can be and as luck would have it, in the all-important Ranji Trophy Elite League game, they found themselves to be again at the receiving end of Kedar’s blade at the Brabourne Stadium, on Tuesday.
There’s something about Mumbai that seems to bring the best out of the middle-order bat. His 120 not out in the 2013-14 quarter-final at the Wankhede Stadium to chase down a target of 252 for the loss of two wickets against a Zaheer Khan-led side is part of the folklore of the Maharashtra derby.
Ten years later, at the age of 37, he turned the clock back to score another superb hundred against the local rivals. His superb 128 helped Maharashtra finish the opening day on 314/6 and put pressure on the hosts in the must-win game.
In 2013-14, Jadhav had yet to play for India and had the extra motivation to impress the national selectors. Now, he is scoring runs for fun -- in three Ranji games, the veteran has two half-centuries and a 283. It is impressive because he had suddenly disappeared from the circuit for nearly a year and a half. He had become a forgotten man. It came as no surprise that he attracted no bids at the last IPL auction.
“The fight is between me and my mind, if I want to do well and prepare very well for it, most of the time I do well," said Kedar after the day’s play. “I have seen everything, I have been there, done that. I am 37, I have handled more pressure games than this. This was just another day. Both teams need at least the first innings lead to be able to qualify for the next round, that is the only pressure," he added.
The challenge for the opposition against a player like Kedar is that even under extreme pressure he makes batting look easy. Opting to bowl first on winning the toss, the Mumbai bowlers did well to prize out the top four wickets for 129 runs.
The opening day’s pitch offered assistance to the pacers. It was impressive, that even when walking down a couple of steps to kill the movement, Kedar looked unhurried. Always looking to attack, he converted the good length deliveries into drives or moved across to turn the ball on the onside. When the bowlers erred in their lengths, he got on top of the bounce for his pull shots. Mumbai were left to rue the dropped catch in slip he offered while on 37. That was the only chance as he went on to hit 18 fours and a six.
“I love this city. I love playing in Mumbai, I don’t come here often to play club games. I have come here to play either Ranji Trophy or India or IPL games, the pitches are very good, and people are very supportive, Test cricketers come and watch you play. It is a very encouraging atmosphere where you want to showcase how good you are. So, I love to bat in Mumbai, irrespective of the opposition. The sporting tracks, always challenge the sportsman in you.”
So, what’s the motivation to come and play Ranji Trophy now?
“I realised there is nothing else that I can do and which makes me happy. At the same time, it keeps me fit also. So I thought to come back and play. I am glad I am able to contribute in the matches that I have played, and I am looking forward to doing this for a few more years. I am enjoying my batting.”