Attacking middle-order batsman Kedar Jadhav on Friday scored an unbeaten 57-ball 61 as India clinched its maiden bilateral ODI series triumph in Australia with a seven-wicket win in Melbourne.
Maharashtra coach Surendra Bhave was impressed with his performance. He felt that the rightful utilisation of his off-field downtime had a significant bearing on his batting. "He (Kedar) paced his innings very well; he seems to be in very good form. The downtime was very important," Bhave told Sportstar.
"He has worked really hard on his fitness during this period. His entire training routine has changed... previously, say five-six years ago, you would never see Kedar running the rounds of the ground but he has totally turned it around," he added.
Bhave, who was a national selector until 2012, believes the time Kedar spent playing red-ball cricket in Ranji Trophy has helped him in the limited-overs format. "He has lost weight, watches what he eats and generally speaking, he played three matches in the Ranji Trophy this season out of which one was a hundred (103 vs Chhatisgarh) and one a 99 (vs Saurashtra) while the other three were early dismissals. Those knocks held him in good stead."
Jadhav, in his three outings, made 209 at an average of 41.80 and Bhave said the team was lucky to have Kedar in the squad for two matches in a row. "I had the opportunity to interact with him in a team environment; you get more time to talk to the player when you are on tour. We talked about a few things and he practised it very sincerely!
"All in all, not playing the first two matches (of the ODI series vs Australia), knowing Kedar, he would have assessed the pitches and the Australian attack and noticed that there was more purchase from shots off the backfoot. The ball will bounce and carry through to the keeper pretty easily and him being diminutive, he enjoys the short and hard length deliveries," Bhave noted.
Bhave further explained how featuring in a handful of domestic games can make a batsman more adept at being effective in ODIs and T20s. "I am certain he (Kedar) would have been middling the ball throughout the nets also because he was middling the red ball here in India so well.
"The thing with the red ball is if you want to score a 100 against it, you're dealing with swing almost every over of an innings. .. shining the ball from one side while concentrating on the movement from the other..
"That must have worked wonders for him because you have to watch the red ball really well and add to that some conducive pitches in domestic cricket, the two knocks turned out to be pretty important for him."
"All in all, not playing the first two matches (of the ODI series vs Australia), knowing Kedar, he would have assessed the pitches and the Australian attack and noticed that there was more purchase from shots off the backfoot. The ball will bounce and carry through to the keeper pretty easily and him being diminutive, he enjoys the short and hard length deliveries,” — Surendra Bhave
Injuries have continued to haunt Jadhav's career in India colours. The all-rounder was down with a hamstring strain, suffered while batting during India’s successful chase in the final of the Asia Cup against Bangladesh last year.
Earlier, he had suffered a grade 2 hamstring tear in the opening game of the 2018 IPL and was ruled out for the entire season and India’s subsequent tour of Ireland and England. Bhave, who has followed Kedar's career graph closely, is optimistic that the board will keep a close watch on his progress.
"We all hope BCCI has been following him closely on his injury history and hopefully this time around, he will be able to play a certain number of games in a row without breaking down," he said.
Asked about Jadhav's role in the squad for the upcoming World Cup in England, Bhave said, "It will be very similar to what he has been doing. He'll give you four-five overs with the ball. Another noticeable thing yesterday with the round-arm action was he actually got a few balls to spin which adds variations to his repertoire. With the square arm, if the ball spins away from the left-hander, then it can be effective.
"His batting has many dimensions... I don't know if the team management is thinking on a particular batting number for him but basically, he gives you that batting firepower in the lower-middle order."
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