Jaydev Unadkat: ‘The final price was hard to believe’

Saurashtra’s left-arm seamer is confident of producing creditworthy performances for his franchise as in 2017.

Jaydev Unadkat was the second-highest wicket-taker in the IPL last season (24 wickets).   -  M. Vedhan

While the Saurashtra one-day team was training at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium in Rajkot for next week's Vijay Hazare Trophy tourney, a television set was put on full volume in the dressing room, with a support staff member keeping a constant watch on the proceedings of the Indian Premier League Player Auction.

The moment the fourth set of the morning, featuring capped pace bowlers came to the floor, he alerted the players to be on stand-by. And the moment auctioneer Richard Madley called up player No. 150 in the auction list, the entire Saurashtra contingent rushed to the dressing room. For the next 10 minutes, cheers and laughter continued to get louder as Unadkat, the Saurashtra limited overs' captain, fetched Rs. 11.5 crore, the most by an Indian in the auction. Rajasthan Royals had won the three-way race that also involved Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab.

“We all watched my auction together. And after a while, it started getting a little too much but it feels good that so many teams are putting their faith in you,” an elated Jaydev Unadkat told Sportstar from Rajkot on Sunday. “I was sure I would earn a reasonable bid but the final price was hard to believe for a while. But I understand that the responsibility is also bigger and I am confident I can repeat the last year's performance.”

‘Fortunate enough’

After being picked for his base price of Rs. 30 lakh by Rising Pune Supergiant in the 2017 auction, Unadkat emerged to be the surprise package of IPL-10, ending as the second-highest wicket-taker with a tally of 24 wickets. That was followed with a Man of the Match performance in India's last Twenty20 International at home against Sri Lanka last month. No wonder, then, that his base price had swollen to Rs. 1.5 crore for this year's tournament.

“Having performed well, I was advised for a slightly higher price tag but since I was going to feature on the second day, I wasn't sure how far the teams would stretch themselves. But I was fortunate enough to go for that sort of a figure,” said Unadkat, the left-armer who has recovered splendidly after a forgettable debut Test outing against South Africa way back in 2010.

Despite having been an IPL regular for the past few season and having been on the fringe of India's team for a better part of the last two years, the quintessential Kathiawari in Unadkat rushes either to Porbandar, a quaint coastal town that's famous for being Mahatma Gandhi's birthplace, or to the comforts of the cosy Rajkot, home of Saurashtra cricket that's been his second home ever since he became a serious cricketer.

No change

“That gives me a sense of being myself rather than spending a lot of time in bigger cities,” Unadkat had told this reporter earlier this month. “I can even go for a walk if I want, if not in Porbandar but certainly in Rajkot. And to be with the family, either at home or with the sister's family in Rajkot also makes me comfortable.”

Cut to Sunday and Unadkat realised that it won't be as easy to roam around the streets of Rajkot, at least for some time now. “But trust me, I will not change. Just like earlier, I would continue to eat out or go and watch a movie whenever I feel,” he stressed. “Even tonight, the whole family is getting together and we will go for a long drive before celebrating with a quiet dinner.”

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