Jaydev Unadkat, who earned a recall to the Indian squad for the tour of Zimbabwe on Friday, expressed gratitude to Zaheer Khan, saying the former India pacer helped him improve as a cricketer during his stint with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League.
"Zak (Zaheer) had a big role to play during the last season of IPL. I believe that his contribution to my improvement as a cricketer has been immense. He would devote extra time on me at the nets. Having variations is not all. Zak taught me how and when to use variations. He told me ways to read a batsman's mind which is very important," said Unadkat on Friday.
The other aspect that has helped him is being a part of an extremely strong Saurashtra squad that has likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja in it.
"You look at the amount of runs that Cheteshwar and Jadeja have scored in Ranji Trophy. Once you regularly bowl to a batsman of Cheteshwar's calibre at nets, it automatically improves you. Both him and Jaddu have done well at the highest level and they would tell me about where I needed to improve. That helped a lot," Unadkat stated.
The 21-year-old Unadkat had been confined to the sidelines after playing his only Test match against South Africa at the Centurion, back in 2010.
"I didn't have a lot of experience then. In the last three seasons, I have matured as a cricketer having toiled hard in the Ranji Trophy as well as in the IPL," said Unadkat, who got 13 wickets in 13 matches during the last edition of IPL.
However, he expected the call-up into one of the two teams and he is in both squads (India team for Zimbabwe and India 'A' team to South Africa).
"I thought that I would be picked up either in the India A squad to South Africa or for the Zimbabwe tour. I am proud of being a part of both squads," Unadkat said.
For Unadkat, the most important thing will be to cement a place in the side.
"There is a lot of competition for a place in the Indian side and one needs to give more than 200 hundred percent to get success at this level. I have worked a lot on my game as well as increasing my body strength," the youngster signed off.
Image: Jaydev Unadkat
Photograph: Bikash Mohapatra