'I have brought in variations in my bowling'
Jaidev Unadkat is a much-improved bowler now. Zimbabwe is his best chance to find a regular place in India’s team, says Haresh Pandya.
Promising left-arm fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat, who has already featured in one Test, is one of the three cricketers from Saurashtra in the young Indian team for the tour of Zimbabwe.
He was one of the successful bowlers in the last edition of the Indian Premier League. His selection in India’s one-day team is as much due to that showing as to the absence of Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav, who are being rested.
Unadkat is a far-improved bowler now and this is his best chance to find a regular place in India’s team for the shorter versions of the game.
He spoke to Haresh Pandya just before boarding the flight for Zimbabwe. Excerpts from the candid interview:
Did you expect to get selected in the Indian team for the upcoming tour of Zimbabwe, for five One-Day Internationals?
I was very hopeful, especially after my fairly satisfactory performance in the last Indian Premier League. I am more experienced, more mature and bowling better than ever in my career. I am thankful to the selectors for showing confidence in my ability. I have to grab this opportunity by performing well and living up to their expectations.
What are the challenges of the Zimbabwean tour?
Any overseas tour, even if it is of Zimbabwe, is always a challenge. With many a top Indian player being rested, there is more responsibility on all of us to ensure that we continue the winning streak that began with the home Test series against Australia and the Champions Trophy in England.
Image: Jaydev Unadkat
Photographs: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
'Cheteshwar, Ravindra and I are good friends'
With Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav not in the team, you are expected to spearhead the Indian attack with Vinay Kumar and Mohammed Shami. How do you feel about the prospect?
I feel very excited. Both Vinay Kumar and Mohammed Shami are very good bowlers and I am sure it will be interesting to spearhead the Indian attack with them. Zimbabwe has some quality batsmen and I look forward to bowling to them.
Your Saurashtra teammates Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja are also in the Zimbabwe-bound team. How do you rate them?
When I played my first Test in South Africa, Cheteshwar was already in the team. Now even Ravindra is there.
So it is really nice that I have two friends from Saurashtra to make me more comfortable and relaxed in the team. I do not think I really have to say how good they are.
They have already proved their worth at the international level. All I can is they are so talented that they will serve India for years to come. Cheteshwar, Ravindra and I are good friends. We have played a lot of cricket together and we know one another well. It is a special feeling that all of us are now representing the country.
Image: Jaydev Unadkat and Cheteshwar Pujara
Photographs: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images
'I think I swing the ball more prodigiously now'
It is more than two years now since you played your only Test, against South Africa at Centurion in December 2010, for the country. What have you learnt and experienced during this period?
I was very young and inexperienced at the time. I was delighted to get to play Test cricket for my country at such a young age. It was, of course, baptism of fire and I admit I squandered the opportunity by not performing well. I realised then, and I strongly believe now, that Test cricket is a different ball game altogether.
As I said, I am more mature now and have improved in certain areas of my bowling. I think I swing the ball more prodigiously now on a pitch conducive to my type of bowling. I have also brought in variations in my bowling.
India is scheduled to tour South Africa this winter. How hopeful are you of your selection in the Indian team for that?
I cannot, and I should not, think about that tour at this particular moment when we are about to leave for Zimbabwe.
Right now my objective is to perform well in Zimbabwe and help my team win as many matches as I can. It is only after the one-day series in Zimbabwe that I can seriously think of the South African tour. My selection will depend to a large extent on how I bowl in Zimbabwe. But I am really not thinking about the South African tour right now.
Image: Jaydev Unadkat
Photographs: Mike Hutchings/Reuters
'It was great training under Akram'
How did the IPL help you?
In Twenty20, all you get to prove your ability with the ball is just four overs. Sometimes you do not get to bowl even four overs.
And the cricket in the IPL is such that batsmen are usually on the rampage. You have to plan bowling according to the situation your team is in and which batsman you are up against. You have to keep your cool.
You should not lose heart even if you are hit hard. You have to bowl different lines and lengths and pack many variations in your bowling to keep the batsman guessing.
What I enjoyed the most was the full confidence and support of my captain and all my other teammates. It was very encouraging. I was never treated like a junior or inexperienced player.
Wasim Akram was “very impressed” by your bowling when he was the coach of Kolkata Knight Riders – your first team in the IPL. Did he give some important tips to you?
Yes, it was great training under him and learning useful things from him about fast bowling. He was fairly impressed by my ability to generate pace and swing the ball both ways. I learned a great deal about the reward of hard work and the art of in-swing from the great Pakistani. And it was very encouraging.
Can we expect to see reverse-swing from you now that you say you have brought variations in your bowling?
Yes, you can on odd occasions!
Image: Jaydev Unadkat