He is not a teenage success story. Nor is he a flamboyant “cool-dude” types. In fact, despite playing a handful of vital knocks with the bat – his primary arsenal – Kedar Jadhav has made waves for his unorthodox – innocuous at times – off-spin bowling.
Had Hardik Pandya not broken down in his fifth over, Jadhav may not have bowled the nine overs that he eventually did during the high-voltage Asia Cup clash against Pakistan on Wednesday. Ugly, yet effective as he is with the ball, Jadhav scalped three for 23, his best figures in international cricket so far.
However, let alone bowling, for three months over the last six, Jadhav couldn't even hold the bat in his hands, after getting operated on left hamstring. After hurting the hamstring first versus Sri Lanka last December and later, in South Africa in February, when the same injury recurred in the Indian Premier League (IPL) opener in April, Jadhav, in consultation with the BCCI medical team, decided to go under the knife and a rigorous rehab.
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Jadhav admitted that the prolonged lay-off has not only helped him get back in shape, but has also made him realise the importance of fitness.
“I’ve been injured more than three times on my left hamstring. In the IPL, again I got injured, so we decided to go for surgery. The surgery, it has definitely helped me fitness-wise. I don’t have it in my mind that I will get injured again. In the last four months, I’ve learnt a lot about training and fitness, and it has definitely made me a better cricketer,” Jadhav said, after India's crushing win versus the arch-rival.
“Previously, when I got injured, when I returned to play after rehab, I used to feel I’m fit and it won’t come again. Many times, I used to skip my routines. But, after the third time, regardless of how I feel, everyday I start my day with training: both gym and running. So, that gives me confidence that I’m getting stronger and fitter everyday, and that helps me on the field.”
Hardik, Axar, Shardul out of Asia Cup
Having emerged as a surprise weapon with the ball ever since then captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni threw the ball to him out of the blue during India's home series against New Zealand in 2016, Jadhav's bowling has emerged as a dissecting point for fanatics and connoisseurs alike. But, the player himself doesn't take bowling too seriously.
“Honestly, I bowl one or two overs before the match at training. I don’t bowl much at the nets. I feel if I try and become a bowler, I will lose whatever I have. So, I stay within limits,” he said, with a chuckle.
If he continues to strike as regularly with the ball as he did on Wednesday, his teammates won't mind whether he bowls in the nets or not.