KOCHI: Jaydev Unadkat was 19 when he was picked for the Indian team, after a 13-wicket first-class debut for India A.
But the Test against South Africa at Centurion five winters ago, where the left-arm seamer went wicketless, remains his only significant international cap, unless you take into account seven ODIs here and there, the last of which came against the West Indies in 2013 at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium here.
Back in Kochi for the national T20 championship, the Saurashtra 24-year-old is in the process of reinventing himself. While the current season has seen him regain the nip that he seemed to have lost while in transition from the junior level, the latest version of Unadkat comes added with more firepower with the willow.
On Thursday, he smashed five fours and two sixes in an unbeaten 39 to power his team to an impressive win over Rajasthan in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at the St Paul’s College Ground, Kalamassery.
Having recovered from a back injury that sidelined him for much of last season, he is enjoying his time as a vital cog in the Saurashtra wheel, with ball and the bat.
“I’ve been focusing a lot on strength which is giving me the nip that I had in the under-19 days,” Unadkat said. “The last year wasn’t that good for me. I had four-five months of lay-off after a back injury. So the nip was missing. I got it back this season, because of which I am getting extra bounce and pace that I was known for.”
As for improved batting skills, the former Delhi Daredevils player pointed out it was something he always had but was left malnourished. “I had belief in my batting. Just that I was not focusing much on it. Probably, I wasn’t giving much time to it in the nets. In the couple of months before the Ranji season, I tried to give some time to my batting,” he said.
Recounting that he used to play as an all-rounder in his childhood, he said, “I always knew I could do it. And I’ve done well in the Ranji season as well, got some 280-odd runs. That’s the reason I’ve been middling the ball well.”
His role with Saurashtra in the shortest format is of pinch hitter. “Just to go and accelerate when needed, doesn’t matter if I go at six or seven or any number.”
Aiding him rediscover the “big-hitter” in him is Cheteshwar Pujara. “Cheteshwar is my best friend since the last six, seven years. We stay together off the field and talk about the game. He has been helping me in that respect.”
His showing could not have come at a better time, ahead of the IPL auctions. “Proper time I’d say. I’m looking forward to the auction. Let’s see what happens. I’d be raring to go out there and get back into the national team,” Unadkat said, with Rajkot being one of the new franchises.
TAMIL NADU WIN BIG, QUARTERS IN SIGHT
Nagpur: Opener Abhinav Mukund smashed his way to an unbeaten 67 off 36 balls as Tamil Nadu made short work of Gujarat to win their group A Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 by nine wickets, here on Thursday. Tamil Nadu are on top of group A with 12 points from four games and still have two more to play. Gujarat and Vidarbha also have 12 points each. The Rajagopal Sathish-led team looks good for a berth in the quarterfinals of the tournament. Batting first, Gujarat were bowled out for 105 in 19.4 overs with Raxlee Taylor scoring 44. Seamer W Anthony Dhas was the most successful with 3/19 in 4 overs.