Unadkat: Fortunate to have Pujara for the knockouts

Ahead of the quarterfinal against Uttar Pradesh, captain Jaydev Unadkat says this is one of the best teams Saurashtra has had in the recent times.

Captain Jaydev Unadkat says Saurashtra is pumped up for the quarterfinals.   -  Vivek Bendre

For Jaydev Unadkat, captaincy came in the middle of the tournament when Saurashtra’s old skipper, Jaydev Shah, decided to call it quits. And the pacer from Porbandar has lapped up the opportunity, helping the side storm into the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy.

The bowling unit, spearheaded by the new captain himself, has delivered some fine performances in the group stage, and with Cheteshwar Pujara available for the quarterfinal against Uttar Pradesh, the batting department is also well balanced.

A day before travelling to Lucknow for their last-eight clash, Unadkat tells Sportstar that Pujara’s return will be a big boost for the side.

How has the season been for Saurashtra so far?

We have been in great form from the beginning of the season, not just in the four-day format, but also in the one-dayers (the Vijay Hazare Trophy), though we had a couple of bad games in the one-dayers. But things changed in the Ranji Trophy. Every single player has put up a consistent performance and we have got great momentum.

Pujara had a great outing in the Test series against Australia, and now that he is back into the side, do you think that the batting department just turned more powerful?

We are pumped up for the quarterfinals. It will be great to have Chintu (Pujara) back in the side. He is a big asset to both the Indian team and thee Saurashtra team. We are fortunate to have him for the knockouts. Now that he is back in the team, we have got a great balance in the side, especially in the batting department. We are anyway bowling well. I would actually say that this is one of the best teams Saurashtra has had in the recent times. I am excited for myself and for the team.

Are there any injury concerns?

There are no injury scares at the moment. We are playing with the same squad for the last four games and we are continuing with it. Of course, Chintu comes in to the side. As a captain, it is good for me because I need a group which keeps on going and finds confidence game after game. That’s good for us and we hope to maintain this form in the knockouts as well.

Uttar Pradesh is an unpredictable side. Before facing it, what are the things that you would like to fix?

We have been bowling well since the beginning of the tournament. We have had a couple of bad innings as a batting unit, which can always be rectified. That’s one thing we will be focusing on.

What has been the biggest takeaway from the tournament so far?

Well, the youngsters are coming up and we have got some really good young cricketers, who have added to the balance of the side. I think they are confident of delivering the goods in the knockouts as well. And from the bowling perspective, we will keep doing the same job that we did in the group stage.