Kedar Jadhav’s role in the Indian cricket team bears utmost significance given his consistency and love for batting in crunch situations. The middle order batsman offers plenty of cushion for Team India with his match-winning attributes. From being an able bowler, who can give you the wickets, to that of playing strongly with the bat, Jadhav is a captain’s delight.
Jadhav was superb once again in the first ODI against Australia in Hyderabad after guiding Indian to a sensational six-wicket win. The utility man chipped in with a sublime 87-ball 81, which was studded with nine boundaries and a six. He joined hands with veteran wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni and the pair stitched a match-winning 141-run stand.
India got to the score of 240 for four in 48.2 overs after the Aussies had managed 236/7 in 50 overs. Ahead of his mastery with the bat, Jadhav also performed well with the ball after figures of 1/31 in seven overs. Jadhav has repaid the faith the side has vested in him and he has given the feeling of being an able finisher.
With the ICC World Cup 2019 starting in England and Wales from May 30 onwards, Jadhav’s influence in the team will be immense. One can expect skipper Virat Kohli to continuously turn on to the player in terms of producing moments of magic with both bat and ball. Jadhav has grown to become an experienced customer and every now and then he has played innings of substance to help India win ODI matches.
Here we analyse his significance for the Men in Blue with the Cricket World Cup coming up.
India can rely on the experience of Jadhav
India’s main strength is their top order. Nine out of 10 times the trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli shine as a unit. Their consistency and eye for runs have helped India dominate the show in the 50-over format. But on some occasions they can have a bad day. Like that against Australia in Hyderabad. There have been questions catering to the capabilities of the middle order.
Despite having experience aplenty, India’s middle order hasn’t been tested to great heights. When they faced a test, there have been moments of struggle. But in recent times, the middle order has answered. Be it in Australia and then in New Zealand, India’s middle order clicked. And now in the first ODI, Dhoni and Jadhav were there to the rescue.
What Jadhav has shown here is that the side can rely on his experience during tricky chases. In January, his 61* helped India get past the line. Back in 2017, his knocks of 120 and 90* against England, helped the side register stiff targets in the ODI series at home.
Jadhav is a player that excels in these type of situations. In the Asia Cup in 2018, his 23* helped India beat Bangladesh in the final. Once again India were chasing in that match. This is a strong sign of a player, who isn’t afraid to go out and express himself in these situations.
Jadhav has gained a reputation as a chaser
When you follow Jadhav’s ODI career trajectory, while batting first, the right-hander has only one 50+ score in 18 innings. But when it comes to chasing a match, he has six 50+ scores. The statistic puts weight to his credentials as a chaser. He is someone who is growing to become like a Dhoni or Kohli, who are known to be terrific while chasing down targets.
“Recently in Australia, we pulled off similar kind of chase. I just did that again today. I tried to learn a lot from him (MS). MS and Cheeku (Virat Kohli) are the best chasers in the game,” Jadhav said after the match.
India can trust Jadhav when the going gets tough. He has a calm head and has a healthy knack of finding the odd boundary from time to time. He has all the shots in his bag and when the moment is right, we see him unleashing them. He played a calculated innings in Hyderabad and that helped India benefit.
The pitch in the first ODI was giving the Australian bowlers some assistance. We saw the pacers extracting some bounce while the spinners were also getting turn. Both Dhoni and Jadhav took their time and kept the scorecard ticking. Jadhav’s running between the wickets showed that he has finally put his injury troubles behind him.
They played smart cricket, taking singles and getting their eye in. And then they got those boundaries at pivotal moments of the game. What India did well was to not allow the run-rate to soar high. Dhoni and Jadhav waited for the bad balls and then got the runs. Their partnership made the difference and dealt a blow to the Aussies.
Jadhav comes in as the valuable sixth bowler
Jadhav’s role is more than just a part-time spinner. His attributes with the ball make him a vital bowler in this ODI side. One can expect the player to get crucial overs during the Cricket World Cup. He won’t be there just to fill in the numbers. Kohli will be tempted to give him decent amount of overs and bring that impact in the middle overs. Jadhav has a knack of getting key scalps and he is often a partnership breaker.
On Saturday, he picked up the crucial wicket of Marcus Stoinis (37), who was set and looked to get to a vital score. He bowled slightly on the shorter side and invited Stoinis to pull. The Aussie was left distraught after Kohli gleefully accepted the catch. Jadhav is a dangerous customer with his slingers. But then he has other tricks in his armour as well.
In the World Cup in England. Jadhav will be required to step in as the sixth bowler and often as the third spinner. He can put the pressure on batsmen and also have an effect in slowing things down. Jadhav has picked 26 wickets in 55 ODIs and is a value for money player. “My bowling is all about reading batsmen’s mind. I tried to bowl stump-to-stump. I don’t think like I’m a bowler. I enjoy my responsibility,” said the all-rounder.