Kedar Jadhav, India’s right-arm batting all-rounder has a simple job. The brief is clear and he’s expected to stick to it. His job is to finish the game in the death overs and support the bowling unit in tough times.
Kedar Jadhav is what you may call that of a talented cricketer who can chip in with both ends- score and take wickets, contain scoring and hold onto an end.
But despite being there for a little over half a decade, why does there seem to be this slight discomfort the moment his name is taken?
Why is the question of whether should he or should he not be afforded a place in this marvelously talented side even occurring.
But up first, a fact.
It’s been more than 5 years since he made his ODI debut. Kedar Jadhav has just played 73 games, from which he got only 52 chances to bat.
So if any doubters do come to question why’s he at all there, surely, don’t know this picture or if they do, they aren’t mindful of the chance that 52 innings in nearly 6 years in the team are basically wearing the proud blue colors for no more than 8 occasions.
Is that too much for anyone on this day and where we can see endless cricket being played all around?
So here’s a table for the contention of backers and doubters of Kedar Jadhav
Now a common realization.
Mostly, India’s top 3 – Rohit Sharma, Shikar Dhawan, and skipper Virat Kohli- do the job.
And that’s not always the pure gold that comes up during intense run chases but laying the strong foundation for the team’s score, something that bowlers can defend.
Now here’s a realization you are struck with upon observing the aforementioned table.
Kedar Jadhav hardly gets to play more than 20 balls and when he got the vital chances to prove himself, he disappointed the team in the last few years.
The right-hander has been an “in and out” man during his international career.
In terms of cementing his permanent place in the side, numbers are not in favor of the bloke most are expected to cast aside rather unfavorably since there are other dashing batters and more effective spinners in the star-studded lineup.
You know their names; we are no one to educate you.
That said, let’s delve a little deep.
Let’s look at his year-by-year performances.
So what do we have here?
From 2014-2016- which were the initial years, Kedar Jadhav only played 8 innings from which he managed to score merely 1 century.
If you can’t cross the one big milestone which you are expected to, especially in an era where perhaps we’ve grown accustomed to expecting massive stuff from the lower order batsmen, then what are you?
So could it be that in the psyche of the well-fed fans there’s a realization lurking somewhere that the likes of Dhoni, who let’s be clear didn’t arrive as “the finisher” he eventually became, others too can follow suit?
But then, is that comparison even just, if at all?
In 2017, however, there was a bright change for Kedar Jadhav, a massive one at that.
In fact, it could be said that this was the best year for Kedar Jadhav, the batsman.
In facing the second most number of balls (505) and managing to get the best from it, the right-hander registered 3 fifties and notched up 1 century to arrest the attention of the selectors.
Fair play to him. Hardly a doubt why he was seen in the bright blues for his team. Does that answer why he was playing sides like Australia, against whom he ended up piling lots of runs? In fact, 138 of those from 5 games, with a strike rate of 87.
As a litmus test for measuring most names’ capability, even today, if you do well against Australia, an age where England are perhaps even more dangerous, haven’t you answered back at your doubters?
So, in a sense, he proved it.
But the events of 2018-leading to the 50-over World Cup unfurl a rather surprising picture, something that only the great analysts of the game can stomach if it could be put that way.
When he was picked for this mega event, surely where one’s expected to not put a foot wrong, it may not have inspired a great deal that a mild-mannered figure was in a line up that boasts of muscular men with the captain himself cutting a figure of immense intoxicating appeal, being not only a master of runs but that of great fitness.
So when just 80 runs were scored from 5 games with just 1 fifty, surely those doubting his ability would’ve found themselves well-fed.
Yet, to their surprise, there was an average of 40. How did that happen? Well, he remained unbeaten in 3 innings. Moreover, there was the great savior of a knock, the patiently compiled 52 where India saved themselves from what might have been an embarrassment going down to Afghanistan.
A look at the charts above shows the number 6 slot favors him.
Yet, he is not the first choice of the selectors for the World Cup 2023 campaign.
So while he’s been scoring runs and at rather impressive strike rates, what is the matter about Kedar Jadhav?
A strike rate usually above 75 and well into the late 80s isn’t absurd.
Vital, game-saving fifties and key scores down the order aren’t absent.
So could this be that Kedar Jadhav is a probable victim of the massive and let’s admit, a catchier talent that’s come to offer its services to the Indian national side?
The way the Indian team talent is mushrooming with names coming in from all spaces and wide corners- as they should- how safe and secure is a slot for our man here?
So what is the fuss about?
Despite scoring almost a thousand runs with an average of 49.85 and over century strike rate of 106.51 at No.6, Kedar couldn’t cement his permanent place in the side.
It appears that batting is not the only thing that gets the attention of selectors in favor of Jadhav, his off-spin bowling abilities also include him in the category of bits and pieces cricketer.
But, is he a bits and pieces cricketer, for real or is there something else, altogether?
Jadhav has just bowled a mere 11 overs in his last 12 one day games.
The last he managed to send an opposition batsman to the pavilion was in an ODI against Australia in Nagpur on 5 March 2019.
The numbers, well, they don’t lie. The right-arm off-spinner has a rather below-par bowling performance in the last year.
Not bowling to a line, from the little chances he was afforded against Pollard‘s visiting side didn’t help his cause just like not being given the ball that often, ever since 2019 World Cup hasn’t aided his credentials as an “all-rounder,” the very base of his selection.
Moreover, if today you are to emerge unscathed in a side that has the problem of aplenty- you cannot be picked just as a specialist batsman.
The team has one too many already with Shreyas Iyer having proven himself for the number 4 spot.
Also, let’s realize soon as Hardik Pandya returns, there’ll be another reshuffle, one long-awaited perhaps.
Can Kedar Jadhav then stand on his own legs as less of a bowler but the otherwise useful lower-order bat when again his stake in the team is that of a man who does both?
That being said, let’s see how he fared in the last IPL?
In 2019, Kedar Jadhav ended with a poor show scoring 162 runs at an average of 18.
The strike rate was well under 100.
Moving on, struggles were amplified in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, too, wherein those 222 runs at 24.67 (with a strike rate of 120.65) didn’t appear too threatening.
The problem today isn’t just a genuine lack of chances or the failure to make most of them.
From what he’s been afforded, Kedar Jadhav hasn’t really been a massive failure. In fact, not nearly so in the batting department.
He seems, nonetheless, a victim of an era where there are just too many interesting names appearing from all sorts of directions.
How are you to disagree with that fact?
The last thing that he’d want for his own good would be a chance to play in the IPL, which given the unceremonious and unexpected lockdown doesn’t seem to be an eventuality.
Can we make into Virat Kohli’s playing XI anytime soon? The CSK cricketer will desperately want the Indian Premier League 2020 to happen. And should it not, we might not see Jadhav in the blue jersey again.