Kedar Jadhav's rags-to-riches story

He has been blazing his blade for Maharashtra for almost a decade and has been a regular on India-A tours for half the period and for the last three years, he has been part of India’s second-string squads against Zimbabwe.

PTI

Kedar Jadhav matched skipper Virat Kohli, both in terms of shot-making and running between the wickets in the first ODI against England in Pune.   -  PTI

Ever since Kedar Jadhav started hitting the nets at the P.Y.C. Hindu Gymkhana regularly, the training sessions were invariably followed by coffee at Vaishali, one of the most popular hangouts in his hometown.

As he rose through the ranks — from breaking into Maharashtra’s Ranji squad almost a decade ago to emerging as its batting mainstay to earning lucrative IPL contracts and to wearing the India jersey — his visits to Vaishali have reduced gradually.

On Monday, a day after his whirlwind 76-ball 120 in the series-opening ODI against England, Jadhav was the talk of the town, especially at Vaishali.

Even as Jadhav joined his family at home, regulars at the joint were dissecting his innings and basking in the glory of a fellow Vaishalian.

Every competitive sportsperson wishes to get a packed auditorium rooting for him. That Jadhav managed to do it while playing in front of family, friends and a few detractors in the State association shows the confidence that the diminutive 32-year-old has in his abilities.

However, even when the full house at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium started chanting “Jaaadhav, Jaaadhav” and “Kayyyyydar, Kayyyyydar” on Sunday night, a majority of the locals would have been unaware that Jadhav was the first cricketer from Maharashtra to have featured in an international match at his home ground.

 

In fact, many would not have known that they were chanting for a fellow Punekar. That’s how low-key Jadhav has been for most of his cricketing sojourn.

The son of a retired clerk in the State electricity board, Jadhav’s is a typical rags-to-riches story.

He has been blazing his blade for Maharashtra for almost a decade and has been a regular on India-A tours for half the period and for the last three years, he has been part of India’s second-string squads against Zimbabwe.

Of the 12 ODIs he had played before Sunday, six were in Zimbabwe and the unbeaten 100 he scored in 2015 kept him on the selectors’ radar.

Jadhav got his first full series at home, against New Zealand in October. While his part-time off-spin was impressive, he had a reasonable outing with the bat. More than celebrating his valuable unbeaten 39 in the deciding rubber in Visakhapatnam, Jadhav was sulking over being unable to see the team through after getting set in the second game in New Delhi.

“He himself realised that he had wasted an opportunity to nail a match on his own while batting at No. 6, a position where one’s failure is often highlighted more than success,” says Surendra Bhave, Jadhav’s mentor. “He knew that he had to capitalise on the next possible opportunity and it was so heartening to see him do it here.”

After having broken into the India squad when he was on the verge of entering the thirties, Jadhav realised the importance of getting fitter to cope with the challenges of professional cricket.

As part of his re-jigged fitness regime, he shed the tag of a vegetarian in a quest to consume nutritional food. The fact that he matched Kohli, both in terms of shot-making and running between the wickets, on Sunday night before suffering from cramps late in his onslaught was a clear indicator that the efforts are paying off.

With him being a regular in the IPL frenzy, school kids follow his performance in the summer closely. But not many in the city realise that he is one of them. As a result, even during the IPL, Jadhav could afford to relax with his friends — be it at Vaishali or the Stadium Restaurant at Churchgate in Mumbai — even during the IPL. After Sunday night’s blast, it looks unlikely that he can be himself in public life any more.