Bowling gives Jadhav World Cup cushion

Jadhav, back in action after a hamstring surgery, has realised the need to keep himself in shape for all-round heroics.

Kedar Jadhav celebrates the dismissal of Bangladesh's Mushfiqur Rahim during the Asia Cup final.   -  AP

Halfway into the Asia Cup final, he has batted just twice – tallying 47 runs against in his outings versus Hong Kong and Afghanistan.  Yet, Kedar Jadhav will leave Dubai knowing a World Cup berth has been all but sealed. More than his batting, it's Jadhav's low-arm slingy off-breaks that have continued to surprise the batsmen.

It was Jadhav, the innocuous off-spinner, who helped India regain the control in the final against Bangladesh on Friday. When Jadhav was introduced into the attack by captain Rohit Sharma, it looked like a desperate attempt to throw the ball to the partnership-breaker. The Bangladesh openers had put on 116 runs in 20 overs and were in danger of taking the away from India.

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However it took Jadhav just five balls to live up to his reputation. That it turned out to be a short ball that fetched him his wicket was true, but the fact that he varied his pace cleverly to make Mehidy Hasan Miraz wait so much that an attempted cover drive only resulted in a lob to point.

By the time Jadhav was taken off after bowling five overs in succession – also inducing an on-song Mushfiqur Rahim into a false pull – Bangladesh had lost four wickets for 31 overs.

Jadhav's mix-and-match of bowling with lower trajectory or round-arm, that too by bowling slower and slower on a surface that anyway gets slower as the match progresses – made it easier for the specialist wrist-spinners to take over the mantle and run through the Bangladesh batting order.

It is this aspect of Jadhav's cricket that has made him a vital cog in India's ODI plans. His proven ability to finish the games with his robust batting at No. 6 aside, it's his knack of striking regularly – that too against the top opposition batsmen – that has resulted in the Pune panther all but the seal the World Cup place, provided he keeps himself fit.

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After his three-wicket performance against Pakistan in the league game, Jadhav - who has returned to action after a hamstring surgery had sidelined him for more than four months - admitted that he has realised the need to keep himself in shape to succeed at the higher level and has started working on his fitness more religiously than ever before. If he can walk the talk and stay fit for the next year or so, the selection panel and the team management can heave a sigh of relief.