IPL 2020: Unadkat hopes to replicate domestic form for Rajasthan Royals
Unadkat is also hoping to make a comeback into the Indian team
It was just before the Covid-19 pandemic brought the sporting world to a standstill, left-arm pace bowler Jaydev Unadkat's lionhearted efforts and his inspirational leadership qualities sent Saurasthra to dizzying heights.
It was on the back of Unadkat's staggering haul of 67 wickets (average 13.23) that Saurashtra clinched their maiden Ranji Trophy title.
And it is the sort confidence booster that any player would hope for coming into a tournament as big as the Indian Premier League.
Now that the delayed IPL finally gets a chance to set the ball rolling in the UAE, the 28-year-old fast bowler is hoping to replicate his Ranji Trophy form for the Rajasthan Royals in the richest T20 league in the world.
"Becoming the first captain from Saurashtra to lift the Ranji Trophy was a special moment for me. I still look at it when I need some confidence. I am for sure going to carry a lot of confidence from this domestic season into this IPL," Unadkat, who has played one Test, seven ODIs and 10 T20Is for India, told Khaleej Times in an email interview.
Unadkat was happy with his rhythm despite having no chance to play cricket for five months due to the pandemic.
"Rhythm for a fast bowler is really important and when I got back to my training, I felt that the rhythm was still there. It will largely be about getting some match fitness back for me and hopefully, I can do that and carry the domestic form into the IPL season," he said.
For someone who was dropped at 19 after his only Test appearance in 2010, Unadkat refused to lose hope and his rich haul of wickets in every domestic season might just give Indian selectors a headache.
Even Cheteshwar Pujara said he would be surprised if Unadkat failed to earn the selector's trust despite his tireless efforts on dead pitches in India.
"To be getting that sort of encouragement from someone who has played around 80 Test matches for India is massive. It gives me a lot of confidence and tells me that I'm on the right track," he said.
"It's always been on my mind to make a comeback into the Indian team, especially the Test team, more so since I made my Test debut in 2010 which didn't go well for me.
"Right now I feel, age is on my side and I am at the peak of my career and the next five years are going to remain that way and it's up to me if and how am I able to grab the chances that come my way.
"Having said that, all I'm looking to do right now is take it one tournament at a time, at the moment the preparations are based around the IPL and white-ball cricket."
And Unadkat is looking forward to challenging the current crop of fast bowlers. After all, Unadkat has to compete with the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to break into the Indian team.
"Yes, the competition is really tough in the team amongst the fast bowlers but that's the best thing to have happened," he said.
"It's about getting everyone to perform at their best, including myself. I am really looking forward to being part of the fast bowlers' competitions and raising my own performance levels."
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