Didn’t get support from IPL captains in the past, says Unadkat

In form of his life, the Rising Pune Supergiant pacer gears up for Sunday’s IPL final.

Despite emerging as one of the top domestic buys, Unadkat struggled to get game-time in the IPL's previous two editions.   -  PTI


Rahul Tripathi may well have emerged as a surprise package for the Rising Pune Supergiant. But the key to the team’s success—especially in the latter stages of the tournament—has been the wicket-taking ability of its Indian pacers, especially Jaydev Unadkat.

The left-arm pacer, who hails from Porbandar, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, is only the second bowler to have breached the 20-wicket barrier this season. Considering the fact that he was serving drinks for the first four games, his tally of 22 wickets is nothing less than astounding. Moreover, the fact that his breakout IPL season has come on the back of two forgettable editions makes it all the more incredible.

What has triggered the turnaround?

“In the last couple of years, it's happened that I have had a very fruitful domestic season coming into the IPL but in the IPL, I didn't get much of a support from the past captains,” Unadkat told Sportstar ahead of the Supergiant’s departure to Hyderabad for Sunday’s final. “Probably that hunger to do well is what was different than the past couple of seasons. Skills-wise, I have always got it in me. It's just about capitalising on it. The first match was important this season and once I did well, I just built on that.”

Despite emerging as one of the top domestic buys, Unadkat struggled to get game-time in the IPL's previous two editions. While in 2015, Delhi Daredevils dropped him after he went for 30 runs off three overs in his maiden outing, in the 2016 edition, he went for 49 runs in his only match.

Unadkat stressed on the support he got from “Flem” –head coach Stephen Fleming, “Smithy”—captain Steven Smith and “Mahi bhai”—veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He also cited particular examples of how Smith and Dhoni have been backing him.

“When I bowling the last over to Rohit (Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma), we had planned specifically to bowl slower ones outside the crease. He hit me for a six as well. That was the moment when Smithy came to me and told me “I'd back you all the way. If you want to bowl the same ball, go for it”. That's something which motivates the bowler,” Unadkat recalled. For the record, Unadkat held fort and won the game for Rising Pune, dissming Rohit in the last over.

“When I took those (five) wickets against Sunrisers, in between I went for a boundary. Mahi bhai came up to me and said: “you should have not allowed the pressure to be released and you're good enough to bowl against these kind of batsmen”. Those points at times help you execute the plans in the middle.”

The breakthrough season, which has seen Unadkat becoming the first bowler in T20 cricket to have picked a hat-trick and bowled a maiden while delivering the last over of an innings, has definitely started the reincarnation of Unadkat, the bowler. Despite being one of the most consistent bowlers in domestic cricket, Unadkat is often remembered by a lay man for his forgettable Test debut in South Africa in 2010.

“I have overcome that match long time ago but the hat-trick that I took (against Sunrisers) would surely be one of the most important events of my career. I hope to build on it and help the Supergiant lift the trophy by contributing in what would be my first IPL final,” he said.

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