At 170 for 3 in 42.1 overs, India were struggling to get a move-on. Ajinkya Rahane was caught by Devendra Bishoo and in walks pocket dynamite Kedar Jadhav. With 46 balls more to go, India needed a solid end to put up a fighting total on the board in the third One-Day International (ODI) against West Indies at Port of Spain on Friday. Jadhav played a much-needed cameo and was equally supported by MS Dhoni at the other end. The duo garnered 81 runs from 46 deliveries on a pitch, where batting looked difficult. Jadhav smashed four boundaries and a solitary six for his 40 off 26 deliveries and helped India reach 251 whereas MS Dhoni remained unbeaten on 78 off 79 deliveries.
India came out hard with the ball and decimated West Indies for 158 to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. Jadhav’s contribution was pivotal as he provided the much-needed impetus to India’s innings. There is something unique about Jadhav’s batting. Short in stature, yet dominant with the bat. Jadhav inspires confidence at the crease. He watches the ball closely and is extremely clear with his approach. Jadhav can heave a fast bowler for a six over mid-wicket and can cut a ball almost from the stumps towards third man for a boundary. He makes the utmost use of his hand and picks the ball fractionally early than most of the batsmen; Jadhav is a lot more about deft touches. He manipulates the field well, which is an asset for any batsman.
With Jadhav, things are pretty clear – there will be either entertainment or disappointment. Jadhav will keep hitting boundaries as long as he is at the crease irrespective of the situation and will play attacking cricket. His natural style is dominating cricket, which is an extremely rare quality. He may watch the ball till the very last second and suddenly play an amazing stroke out of nowhere, further giving a testament to how quick his hands are. Jadhav doesn’t shy away from improvising and can produce a breath-taking stroke off good deliveries.
After a sluggish start to his One-Day International (ODI) career, Jadhav made an impression with a scintillating ton in his fourth innings against Zimbabwe. He had a healthy run in the series against New Zealand at home in 2016, where he not only scored crucial runs but also chipped key wickets. Jadhav was then picked for the series against England, where he created wonders with the bat. Jadhav was mesmerising to watch against England and played with unmatched confidence at crucial stages.
In the first encounter, India were chasing 351 in 50 overs and were reduced to 63 for 4 inside 12 overs. With four established batsmen back in the pavilion, not many expected India to script a turnaround from this juncture. Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav stitched a record-breaking partnership of 200 runs in 147 deliveries and set the tone for a successful run-chase. Jadhav scored 120 off 76 deliveries and overshadowed Kohli in a run-chase, which is an oddity. This was one of the best counter-attacks in the history of ODI cricket and Jadhav played his best innings by far. He not only weathered the storm but dominated the bowling attack. And he has a knack of doing it. Jadhav has played this kind of innings in the domestic circuit on many occasions.
Jadhav played a fighting 90 run knock in the third game and almost carried the team over the line. He was dismissed on the penultimate delivery when India needed just six runs. Then came the ICC Champions Trophy, where he got only two opportunities to bat as the Indian top order scored runs consistently. Jadhav played a good cameo against Sri Lanka but failed with the bat in the final against Pakistan.
In 23 ODIs so far, Jadhav averages 61.66 at an awe-inspiring strike-rate of 125.28. these numbers are a testament to his consistency along with dominance. With Jadhav at the crease, there is a sense of assurance. He has massive experience from the domestic circuit, where he has ben equally consistent at a blistering strike-rate. Apart from his prowess with the bat, Jadhav is a handy part-time off-spinner. MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli have made good use of his off-spin and Jadhav has responded to the occasion. Jadhav so far has 10 wickets to his name at 20.80 and an economy of 5.31. Actually, it wouldn’t be just to tag Jadhav as a part-timer. He has looked wise and knows what he does with the ball.
When a batsman boasts of a strike-rate as good as 125 with such an impeccable consistency, then he is certainly a force to reckon. If Jadhav manages to be consistent, then he will bring a lot of stability in the line-up. The middle-order as of now hails of Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya. They form quite an explosive unit and look dominant. The likes of Hardik and Jadhav can launch an attack on the opposition from the outset and well capable of playing long innings.
If Jadhav and Pandya continue to fare the way they have, India will certainly immense firepower in the middle-order artillery. With the 2019 World Cup approaching, Jadhav can cement his spot in the side for the big league with some consistency in the upcoming games. His presence will be handy as he can bat, bowl and also keep wickets. He is a complete package. Although his fielding skills have been rather ordinary, but it is just a matter of time when he pulls up on that front. Kedar Jadhav still has to spend a lot of time at the crease but by looking at the way he has fared so far, he will only get better. With two more games to go, Jadhav has a good opportunity to collect runs and further make his presence felt.