Aggression is his mantra

Cricket : Hard work, self-confidence have helped Jadhav climb the charts

Aggression is his mantra

Kedar Jadhav upstaging the irrepressible Virat Kohli during a counter-attacking chase against England on Sunday night might have come as a surprise to many but the Pune bastman has actually been a destructive force in domestic cricket for nearly a decade now.

A stalwart in his own right in Maharashtra cricket, Jadhav’s strike rate in first class cricket is an impressive 69.09 over 74 matches, a record not many batsmen can boast of. And that strike rate has been calculated after amassing 4945 runs with 13 centuries and 19 fifties.

Jadhav, who hammered 1223 runs in the 2013-14 Ranji Trophy season at a strike rate of 80.30 to almost single-handedly power Maharashtra to a first title in 73 years before being undone by the collective brilliance of Karnataka, is one of those modern day cricketers for whom aggression is the mantra and fear of failure is an afterthought.

The 31-year-old Jadhav first caught the eye with a blistering 29-ball 50 not out against Royal Challengers Bangalore on his IPL debut for Delhi Daredevils in 2010. That exhilarating first impression was followed by a series dull outings — 26 runs in four remaining games of the same season and 18 runs in 6 games of 2011 — saw him sidelined for the 2012.

He returned with vengeance in the ensuing Ranji Trophy season, blasting a 312-ball 327 against Uttar Pradesh that saw him make his way back to the Daredevils in 2013. He did decently for DD and then enjoyed one of his best Ranji Trophy seasons in 2013-14 where he scored a valiant century in the final as well.

Right through his first-class and IPL career, Jadhav has never backed away from a fight, similar to the 76-ball 120 that knocked the stuffing out of England. Jadhav felt self-confidence has been his trait since childhood, something that got highlighted after the daring effort on Sunday.

“I have had this attitude since childhood that whatever I do, I do it from the bottom of my heart,” said Jadhav, hoping to play more such knocks in his international career that blossomed only in November 2014. “On the field, the only intent is to make your team win, which is the right thinking in every situation. I feel everything falls into place when you are thinking right and that was another day when I was going in a proper direction. Obviously I was working hard going into the series and I am happy to have succeeded in the last game.”

Jadhav, who now seems to have the confidence of the team management at a difficult No 6 position, is actually a bit like Mahendra Singh Dhoni — one of the best finishers of all time. Like the Jharkhandi, he mastered his big-hitting art on the streets playing tennis ball cricket with the only difference being he’s more technically sound.

“As a kid, I used to play a lot of tennis ball cricket. There used to be a tournament where fours and sixes were only the straight scoring options, there always used to be bounce on the side. So that's how I got into this habit that even if the ball is low and there's some bounce and if you clear 30 yards, it could be possible to play the shots, especially with the tennis ball. So the flow with which I was playing on Sunday, I thought if there isn't much bounce and there is a bit of elevation, I can hit out.”

Jadhav, realising that even two failures could negate that ‘outstanding’ knock in this fast-paced world, has switched off his phone to stay grounded. He’s aware that people could misconstrue his silence as ‘attitude’. But he also knows the amount of struggle he had to undergo to break into a star-studded Indian team. His focus now is all about playing more such memorable knocks.

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