Absent from cricket for over a year, Kedar Jadhav is back with a bang

Kedar Jadhav has silenced all critics with scores of 283, 56 and 71, before adding another 128 against Mumbai in a must-win game at the Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday.

 Maharashtra batsman Kedar Jadhav in action during the Ranji Match between Mumbai and Maharashtra at CCI Stadium in Mumbai.

 Maharashtra batsman Kedar Jadhav in action during the Ranji Match between Mumbai and Maharashtra at CCI Stadium in Mumbai. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/The Hindu

Kedar Jadhav has silenced all critics with scores of 283, 56 and 71, before adding another 128 against Mumbai in a must-win game at the Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday.

Kedar Jadhav did not feature in any form of cricket for more than a year. So, when he decided to play in the Ranji Trophy for Maharashtra this season, there were concerns about his form and fitness.

But the seasoned campaigner silenced all critics with scores of 283, 56 and 71, before adding another 128 against Mumbai in a must-win game at the Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday.

Coming back into the circuit after a hiatus was a challenging affair, but Jadhav has remained calm and composed - an approach that seems to have helped him in his new stint.

“I realised there is nothing else which I can do, and which makes me happy, at the same time it keeps me fit. So I thought (let’s) come back and play. Let’s see if I am enjoying it, then I will keep on playing as long as I am fit and scoring runs,” Jadhav said.

While he is glad to be able to contribute to the team’s success, Jadhav wants to continue playing for a few more years since he is enjoying his batting. “I was hungry to play, so I started from zero again,” he said.

Against Mumbai, he came into bat in a challenging situation, having lost two early wickets of Pavan Shah and Naushad Shaikh with just 23 on the board.

He took a bit of time to settle in and went on to forge crucial partnerships with Siddhesh Veer and Azim Kazi, en route to his century.

While Mumbai seamers enjoyed the conditions early in the day, Jadhav made batting look easy as the day progressed. “Experience plays a big role in that, and we have a habit of keeping things simple, as long as we have prepared well for it. If I have focused hard, given my 110 per cent then I haven’t failed. 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,” he said, making it clear that he did not allow pressure to creep in.

“I have seen everything, I have been there, done that. I am 37 and have handled more pressure games than this. This was just another day, where both teams needed at least the first innings lead to be able to qualify for the next round. That is the only pressure, otherwise (it’s) just bowlers’ bowling at you… the wicket is very good…”

By his admission, Jadhav has always enjoyed playing in Mumbai. “First of all 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, so I think anyways I love this city, the wickets are very good, and people are very supportive. Test cricketers come and watch you play, so it is a very supportive and encouraging atmosphere where you want to showcase how good you are,” he said.

“So I love to bat in Mumbai, irrespective of whoever the opposition is. The fact is they provide sporting tracks, it always challenges the sportsman in you…”

While the home team’s decision to field first after winning the toss did come as a surprise to Jadhav, he believes that Maharashtra still requires another 100 odd runs to put Mumbai under pressure.

“We are still not where we would have liked to be. I would have been happy had it been 314-4, but at 314-6, we will have to bat out of the skin in the first session, and if we can add another 100 runs without losing a wicket, we can be in a better position,” he said.

From being a regular at Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, Jadhav found no takers in the IPL auctions for two seasons. But he doesn’t want to think too much about it.

“Last year, too, I did not play in the IPL. I have played for 10-12 years and I am satisfied with it. It’s not the end of the world. A cricketer’s aim should be to play for India and not the IPL. IPL is just a platform where you can fast forward your selection process,” he said, adding that he needs to get fitter next season and aim to keep the momentum going.

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