‘Different numbers, different roles key for Kedar’

‘Understanding that different roles have to be taken while batting at different numbers’ is the key to Kedar Jadhav's success, according to former national selector Surendra Bhave.

Kedar Jadhav scored 40 and 24 in the first two ODIs in Chennai and Kolkata, respectively.   -  V. Ganesan

India's attacking middle-order batsman Kedar Jadhav has failed to convert his starts in the last few outings for India. The Maharashtra batsman is yet to leave an impression with the willow in the ongoing One-Day International series against Australia.

Former national selector Surendra Bhave, a Maharashtra stalwart during his playing days, reckons, "One of the major factors (behind Kedar's recent failures) would be getting used to the idea that you've 100 deliveries at your disposal and not 20 or 30. If he's going to bat at that number, there's a likelihood that he's going to get a decent knock which is worth 90-100 balls. That's something he's working on right now – even that 40 against Australia in the series opener was a very refreshing start and it started setting up the game for us after which Hardik Pandya and Dhoni turned it into a match-winning total, " Bhave told Sportstar.

He added, "The rearguard action started with Kedar, that way I'm glad he's able to deliver. Even on a dodgy wicket like the one at Eden Gardens – maybe it was a little two-paced – he looked very comfortable; however, he seems to be getting out abruptly."

Different numbers, different roles

"Understanding that different roles have to be taken while batting at different numbers" is the key to Kedar's success, according to Bhave. He explains, "Initially his (Kedar) role was to bat at No. 6 or No. 7 where you don't get a lot of deliveries to face. He's learning – a good knock which is needed is around the corner. He keeps showing that he is in good nick; he has got that temperament, so it's just about fine-tuning it to the number you're batting at."

Asked if he sees Jadhav donning Test whites for India in the future despite a late start to his career, Bhave expressed optimism.

‘Individual conditioning’

"I think focusing on a shorter format is an individual conditioning. If your fitness allows you to play all three formats, then age shouldn't be a criterion. You've to be mentally attuned to play certain formats of the game. And I strongly believe Kedar will be as effective in Tests as he's in 50-over and Twenty20 cricket. That's my personal belief."

He goes on to substantiate his claim. "You can have a look at his first-class record since 2008-09. He has actually played some cameos and even has a triple-hundred," he said before reminiscing, "He played that absolute gem against Mumbai at the Wankhede stadium to win Maharashtra the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal in 2014, which wasn't by any stretch of the imagination a simple thing to do. The ball was darting around for all four days and Zaheer Khan was bowling unbelievably well.

"To soak the pressure and leave everything outside off-stump while making the bowlers bowl straighter – I'm pretty sure he's an all-format player."

With the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Chetheshwar Pujara honing their skills in county cricket, is Jadhav too mulling a similar stint?

"Absolutely. [Kedar is] already contemplating a county stint and trying to find out whether he can actually play in England. I'm sure given the timing of the England tour, it (county cricket) will help everyone who wants to go to England to get acclimatised to the conditions and play some tough cricket."

Life beyond cricket

Outside the 22-yards, Jadhav is a "very chilled out person," Bhave said, throwing light on the 32-year-old's life away from cricket.

"He's usually surrounded by close friends. Kedar actually leads a very normal life in Pune. He would go to Vaishali (a local restaurant) near PYC Gymkhana - where he practices- and have his coffee, idli or whatever. But I think his best is seen inside the 75-yard boundary; that's where he is very determined to make the best of his ability," he said while adding that, "he just needs to improve his ability to play big knocks more often."

Questions have been asked of Jadhav's fitness and Bhave has already had a chat with him regarding this. "I've spoken to Kedar on this issue many times and he's taking it very seriously. He wants to address it. When your captain is so intense on the field, you cannot have one lapse in your fielding or running between the wickets."

Explaining further, he adds, "Gym is not the only part, even the aerobic ability and the cardio exercises are also important for him (Kedar). Even during his downtime; just before going to the National Cricket Academy (Bengaluru), he did a Yo-Yo test here at the PYC and did all right. He knows what the demands of modern cricket are and of this Indian team, which is an extremely fit Indian team."