In a few weeks, Kedar Jadhav will be 34. He made his ODI debut in 2014. He wasn’t a part of the 2015 World Cup. In all likelihood, he will play in this year’s edition. Doubtful though, if he will he be part of India’s 2023 World Cup plans.
Kedar Jadhav is a transitory cricketer. It’s almost as if his sole purpose is this World Cup. He’s there to fill India’s many gaps. Whether he is the fifth or sixth bowler is unclear. He’s often an afterthought bowler. The kind of afterthought, that in hindsight seems should have been a much earlier thought.
When all else fails, there’s Jadhav. Or Kedar. Or whatever it is they call him. But he’s there. Even the batsmen that face him are not sure he’s there. Or for that matter, aware that he’s bowling. It seems like a swoopy dream that creeps up and goes on, over after over. And if for some reason, the batsmen feel he is uncalled for and should be dispatched – or they should be dispatched from the chains of the Kedar Jadhav dreamscape, they are dismissed.
Batsmen have the same zapped expression as Marcus Stoinis did when he was dismissed to Jadhav off a long-hop. Though in Jadhav’s case, it ideally should be called a short-hop. To try and pull Jadhav to the high heavens but fail to go beyond short midwicket is one of the mysteries of life.
But then isn’t Jadhav just that? An unknown. Just when the world thought they were coming to grips with the anomalies of Jasprit Bumrah’s action, they were faced with Kedar Jadhav’s inaction.
If he were any more languid, the pitch would be a sleeper car. And so, Stoinis perished. As 25 before him. Perplexed. “What did I just do? What did he just do to make me do what I just did to me?” It’s quite inexplicable. For most of his spell, he’s mildly thudding it wide outside off, into a waiting Dhoni’s gloves or pads or shoes or wherever those Netherlands deliveries deem to go to.
That Stoinis fell in Jadhav’s fourth over to give him his first wicket was a surprise. Jadhav is a partnership breaker. By now, it appears the batsman has fallen even before he’s bowled his first delivery.
First time Jadhav bowled in an ODI was under Dhoni’s captaincy - he had consecutive wickets in his second over. Yes, he was on a hat-trick. Whether it was an optical illusion that in the high hills of Dharamsala, someone could sling so low, accounted for Jimmy Neesham’s, dismissal who can say.
Neesham had been caught and bowled by Jadhav. In an instant, from 4780 feet, he had dropped to sea level. Till this day, Neesham hasn’t quite overcome the fact that he fell to Jadhav. In his drafts lies a tweet of the horror. Damned if you tweet, damned if you delete.
In the second match of that series, New Zealand was 115/1 off 20 overs. Who do you call? Partnership busters Jadhav & Co at your service. Third ball off his first over, Messrs TWM Latham were evicted.
Third match: 13th over, Jadhav has his prize, Williamson. In his second over. Later in the 30th over, Jadhav returns for his third over. And has his second prize, Anderson. And Latham again, in his fourth over. He then hands over to Bumrah and the regulars.
For Jadhav is irregular if anything. To describe his bowling is akin to describing a joke. Just, more often than not, the joke is on the batsman. Who are left mortified, did that just happen, much like after Stoinis claimed a bump catch. Uncanny, but Jadhav too claimed a bump catch. Nobody remembers his reaction. Doubt there was one.
Jadhav’s moment in the bowling sun though was when he ran through Pakistan’s middle order, 3/23 off 9 overs, thank you. Not surprising, he had the Pak skipper, Sarfraz Ahmed, in only his second over.
Jadhav has not been dismissed in five of his last seven innings – 81*, 22*, 61*, 23* and 16*. On three occasions, Dhoni was unbeaten at the other end - 59*, 48* and 87*. Jadhav-Dhoni partnerships were 141*, 53* and 121*.
It doesn’t take a Trevor Chappell to tell you that Dhoni has unearthed something special in Jadhav. That’s something Jadhav will tell you all the time. Whether it is Dhoni keeping to Jadhav’s bowling or Dhoni-Jadhav talking their socks off through those long, meandering partnerships - by Jadhav’s own admission, Dhoni restrains him initially. No wonder the two love their long drives together, where Dhoni helms the wheel.
But what is it about Jadhav that gives the impression that he is not just a part-time bowler but a part-time batsman too? Sunil Gavaskar when exalting the likes of Virat and Rohit, went as far as to nail comparative perceptions that Jadhav was an ugly batsman.
Such is the visual impact of certain batsmen that their relatively low-key peers go largely unnoticed. It’s not too different for someone like Ambati Rayudu or Cheteshwar Pujara.
So, if asked, what is your favourite Jadhav shot, you may be at a loss for an answer. In his comparative, Gavaskar praised batsmen such as Jadhav. That they hang in there and get the job done. That they are almost from the Dhoni school of thought – that there is no harm to bat ugly and win ugly as long as you win.
When you’re 95/3, with both Virat and Rohit out, it’s over to Rayudu, Jadhav and Dhoni. It may not be the most soul stirring displays of batsmanship, but scrap they will.
Nothing of Jadhav’s ODI batting numbers indicate a scrap however; a strike rate in excess of 100, a batting average of 47, and you’re tempted to say, hello flam!
If Frodo Baggins were to ever wield a bat, he may not be too dissimilar to Kedar Jadhav. It may not quite be the Return of King Kohli, but he will traverse the dark lands of the middle overs and fight with trolls at the death.
Six of Jadhav’s first seven ODIs were against Zimbabwe in Harare. His first ton came against them. Hold it against him if you want. His second ton was against England. In his hometown, Pune. Hold it against him if you want. Both these were batting at 6, a position he’s come in at in 20 of his 36 innings. Add to that 13 times at No. 5 and 7, and you grasp what kind of crisis man Jadhav is.
Jadhav’s slogan could very well be – everywhere I go, it’s a disaster.
If everything was just fine, there would be no need for Jadhav. Some days, the top three see it through. But more often than not, they won’t. And the middle order will be called to clean up.
Kedar Jadhav is housekeeping. Behind the scenes. Low on glam. But there are days, when even the spotlight falls on him. Just as it did on a maid in Manhattan. That was J Lo.
What will Kedar Jadhav become or not, who knows – till then, stay with those timely inside out cover drives and pulls in front of square. Sometimes, a cricketer is just about his cricket. And there’s no nickname needed.
(Gaurav Sethi branded Bored Cricket Crazy Indians (BCC!) to bring bloggers together. He also branded Che Pujara, Jatman and Thank You Sachin! – as a cartoon, before it became a farewell cry. He used to work on brands. Now he works on himself. He tweets at @BoredCricket)
ambati rayuduAustralia vs India 2019Cheteshwar PujaraDhoniFrom the press boxIndia vs Australia 2019jadhavKedar JadhavMS Dhoni
First Published: March 5, 2019, 7:32 AM IST