Indian all-rounder Kedar Jadhav has slowly and steadily become the go to man for Indian skipper Virat whenever the team needs a wicket. However, the Pune lad came into limelight when he smashed a breathtaking century against England in January 2016 that too in unfavorable circumstances.
Despite being a part-time bowler, Jadhav has always taken wickets in crucial situations and never disappointed his captain regardless of the pitch conditions. Considering his recent magic with the ball, the first case comes to the mind when he got the crucial wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim that too on a full toss in the semi-final of Champions Trophy semi-final, where Rahim was doing a fine rebuild job for Bangladesh after losing Tamim Iqbal. After Rahim’s wicket, Bangladesh lost the plot and went on to lose the remaining wickets in quick succession.
The second incident happened recently in the 1st ODI, Dambulla against Sri Lanka when Upul Tharanga smacked a juicy full-toss up in the air and was easily caught at long on. Again the bowler for no one other than Jadhav. It was the 33rd over and Sri Lanka was starting to stammer at 166/4 and they lost the remaining 6 wickets in a meagre span of 50 runs.
Both the instances have one thing in common that the slow full tosses hurled at the batsmen bowled by the short-statured Jadhav. He has always taken these wickets wherein Kohli tend to bring on death overs specialist Jasprit Bumrah. In both instances then, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka teams were firstly squeezed for runs, which forced them to hit out and dominate the proceedings. The part-timer provided that opportunity, and they went for it, only for this move to come crashing down.
This is, quintessentially, the Kedar Jadhav’s method of bowling, and indeed, taking getting breakthroughs. He is the bowler whom a batsman want to hit out of the park six times out of six, but eventually end up losing the wicket instead, trying to do just that.
With a complete side-on action, Jadhav can’t be a regular “spinner, but at the same time because of his variations he also can’t be a regular “part-time bowler”. It is perhaps one of the crucial reasons that he has been able to surprise the oppositions and take regular wickets as most of the opposition doesn’t take him seriously enough and looks to target him at every opportunity. Even if this Indian line-up were batting against a bowler like Jadhav then they would look to do the same.
Kedar is way different from Suresh Raina or Yuvraj Singh and that completely works in his favor. In fact, the rise of Jadhav the bowler isn’t incidental. It was with this mindset that former captain MS Dhoni had first handed Jadhav the ball against New Zealand in Dharamsala in October 2016.
Jadhav has only bowled in 12 out of 26 ODIs that he has played in. Initially, he wasn’t used too often as there was a reluctance to increase dependability on him. However, there is a lack of consistency in this five-men bowling attack, and many times 50 overs spread over five bowlers hasn’t proven a suitable attack.
Now, thinking about the prospect of World Cup in two years, this lack of consistency from India’s attack urges the need for “Jadhav the bowler”. Ever since, Kohli looked at him as a regular option in England, his importance in the squad has risen, say, in comparison to someone like Manish Pandey, despite his pretty average fielding abilities.
Jadhav’s primary role is a finisher. The fact that none of India’s other top-order batsmen are reliable part-time bowlers helps too, Jadhav spent playing in English conditions this past June showed evident weaknesses in his game in those two aspects – batting and fielding. Ultimately he will have to learn from his experience and could showcase this learning when the Indian team begins the overseas cycle next year.
Another thought about Jadhav also suggests that Indian team management need to take a final call on Kedar as the core team for the 2019 ODI World Cup needs to be built as soon as possible. If they continue to rely on his bowling, it will become increasingly tougher to drop such players in the larger interests of the team and can hurt team composition in the longer run.
On the one hand, there are players who are full-time batsmen and outstandingly fit fielders. On the other, there is Kedar who can a more than just couple of overs and help captain to go with their five-bowler attack, never mind the other traits. It is a fine balance, affecting to Jadhav, which Kohli must achieve in the months to come. We can only hope whatever Kohli decides it comes in flying colors for Team India in 2019 World Cup and even after that.