Ranji Trophy winner Jaydev Unadkat hungry for India comeback
Saurashtra skipper and lead pacer Jaydev Unadkat picked up 67 wickets this season at 13.23, but more importantly, bowled match-winning spells in both the semi-final and final of the Ranji Trophy.
Now that he is a Ranji Trophy winner, Jaydev Unadkat hopes that "people" will not talk only about his IPL riches and says the hunger to make an India comeback has never been stronger following a sensational season. Saurashtra skipper and lead pacer Unadkat picked up 67 wickets this season at 13.23, but more importantly, bowled match-winning spells in both the semi-final and final of the Ranji Trophy. He took seven wickets against Gujarat and, on Friday, dismissed a well-set Anustup Majumdar before effecting a run out in the same over to tilt the game decisively in his team's favour.
"I still have that hunger to make a comeback. The hunger has never been stronger than this and that actually kept me going throughout the season," said Unadkat after captaining Saurashtra to their maiden trophy. "To be honest, it was challenging physically surviving the season. Bowling those long spells as a fast bowler in almost every game. "I just want to keep this phase going. I don't want to end it here. Yes, we have won the trophy and I am the happiest captain in the world right now If I can say that."
The 28-year-old last played for India in 2018, a T20 International against Bangladesh, and he played his only Test in 2010 and last of his seven ODIs in 2013. Sitting next to him and the trophy was his good friend and Saurashtra teammate Cheteshwar Pujara, who fully endorsed Unadkat's views. "I agree Jaydev has bowled exceptionally well throughout the season. If someone takes 67 wickets in a season, I don't think there is anyone who can perform better in the Ranji Trophy. There has to be lot of importance to Ranji Trophy performance to get picked for the Indian team," Pujara said.
"Jaydev was modest that he would not be thinking about the Indian call but I will be surprised if he is not picked in the Indian team," said the Test specialist who too made a crucial contribution despite being unwell. Unadkat, who twice went for the big bucks in the IPL auction and is a key player for Rajasthan Royals, is glad that he has achieved a long pending dream. "The second question about IPL does matter a lot to me. I have been working harder than many guys, as hard as any other cricketer in the country to earn my rewards.
"It was not just the IPL on my mind at any time. Yes, there was auction happening and people were talking just about that but this was something I really wanted to (win Ranji Trophy). "I wanted to do it for the team, I wanted to do it for myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I don't want to play the game for something other than cricket. I started playing this game because I was so passionate about it," he said.
Like he had done in the semi-finals, Unadkat made all the difference in the final on day five by taking two wickets and effecting a run out after Bengal began at 354 for six, needing 72 runs to take the all-important first innings lead. The momentum was with the visitors in the presence of in-form Anustup Majumdar and Arnab Nani, who had shared an overnight stand of 91 runs. However, Unadkat saw the twist coming.
"First of all, it was very draining emotionally and physically as well to be out there for a couple of days fighting for the coveted trophy and guys put in everything that they had. "Though the energy levels were down but I think the way we won the semi-finals gave us belief. There was a checker among each other in the team that one twist was left in the game.
"We believed there will be one more twist in the game but we will have to work hard for it. There were nerves but everyone was pumped up. "The semifinals actually gave us hope that come the final day, they needed 72 runs which was hard on this wicket. We still had lot of hope amongst ourselves that is why we went through," said Unadkat. The skipper also joked about how the media from Bengal fired them up.
"Probably you guys cheering Bengal team from the media box and we getting pumped up rather than them (laughs). I was hearing bhaalo baashi bhaalo baashi from media box all the time and I was more motivated than them.
"But, jokes apart, everyone was emotional not just you guys, that is how emotional this can turn out to be," he said when asked about the turning point of the game.
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