'I have to make all efforts to come back in the Indian team'
Out of Team India reckoning, Saurashtra bowler Jaidev Unadkat tells Haresh Pandya he is not unnecessarily disappointed by the turn of events in his still budding career.
Jaidev Unadkat seems to have disappeared from the national scene, after an unspectacular Test debut in South Africa last December, as quickly as he unexpectedly came into the limelight.
No place for him in India's team for the World Cup, an unimpressive performance in the IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders, and no berth in the squad currently touring the Caribbean despite the absence of a couple of big guns in the bowling department present a disturbing picture about the lanky lad from Saurashtra, who promised so much so soon only a few months ago.
Of course, he is not yet 20.
In a candid interview with Haresh Pandya, the gangling medium-pacer, as realistic as ever and showing admirable maturity for one so young, emphasises that he is not "unnecessarily disappointed" by the turn of events in his still budding career.
You made your Test debut only last December, but you are no longer part of Team India. How do you feel?
Well, I've to accept the fact that I'm not in the Indian cricket team. Obviously, you feel sad losing your place from the national side. But you've to look for the solution. I think all I've to do is try hard, work harder at my game and make all possible efforts to come back in the Indian team.
You triggered a lot of expectations at such a young age. How was it like being a member of the Indian team against Australia at home and then making your Test debut in South Africa late last year?
It was a happy feeling that my potential and performance were noticed by those who matter. I felt very encouraged that the national selectors showed confidence in my ability and gave me an opportunity to prove my worth. I really can't complain.
Image: Jaidev Unadkat
'Test cricket is a different ball game'
But don't you think you failed to grab that opportunity? You didn't take a single wicket in your only Test, at Centurion, as South Africa posted a mammoth total of 620 for 4 and defeated India by an innings
Maybe, yes! When you're playing your first Test, you are keen to prove your ability and perform well. You want to do something special. But I've no excuses to offer. I realised Test cricket, and that too against a team like South Africa in South Africa, is a different ball game altogether.
Obviously, I was a little disappointed at being unimpressive. But I took it as a learning experience. There was so much to learn for a youngster like me on the tour of South Africa.
What major lessons did you learn on that tour?
It made me realise that I've to further improve my bowling. My pace isn't extraordinary. Being a new-ball bowler I've to try and bowl at a speed of at least 135 kmph or so. I have to bring in more variations in my bowling, and I have to be stronger.
What did the then Team India coach, Gary Kirsten, tell you?
He told me not to lose heart, as he saw good talent in me. He made some well-meaning suggestions about my bowling. He said I had a bright future, but advised me to continue to work hard. My captain, M S Dhoni, and all my other teammates were also very encouraging, very helpful.
Image: Unadkat celebrates after dismissing Ricky Ponting in the Board President's match in September 2010
' I really enjoyed bowling in England'
You didn't figure in the Indian team for the World Cup. Were you expecting to be in the squad?
No, not at all! I wasn't part of India's one-day side. So there was no question of my being picked in the squad for a big tournament like the World Cup.
With Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth being ruled out of the West Indies tour because of injuries, were you hoping for a recall, especially when the selectors picked quite a few youngsters in the side?
No, I wasn't much hopeful. As I said, I haven't played any ODI or Twenty20 match for the country. More experienced players than me were preferred. I think much the same can be said about the subsequent Test series in the West Indies.
How hopeful are you about selection for the forthcoming England tour, considering your consistently impressive performance there while representing India 'A' last year?
Well, let me wait and see what is in store for me. I can't say anything right now. But I must say I really enjoyed bowling in England, where wickets and conditions are favourable for a bowler like me who relies more on swing than express pace. And I was pretty successful, too.
Don't you think you got a break in the senior Indian team a bit too early regardless of your present situation?No, I don't think so. Whether you're young or old, you don't get a look-in if you've no potential. I may have failed to make any impression in my only Test, but on most other occasions I've grabbed my opportunities and not let down those who placed their confidence in me.
Image: Unadkat trains with Cheteshwar Pujara during India's tour of South Africa at Kingsmead in December 2010
Photographs: Getty Images
'The big factor on my side is my young age'
You've been part of Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL. How has it helped boost your career?
It has helped me in many ways. I got some invaluable tips from the KKR bowling coach, Wasim Akram, in the art of swinging the ball. Sourav Ganguly, when he was with the KKR, also encouraged me in every possible way. It was only after my fairly good performance in the IPL last year that I came into the limelight, I suppose.
Of course, then I performed well in England for India 'A'. Thereafter I was called by Gary Kirsten and M S Dhoni to join Team India in Sri Lanka as a net bowler. I mean, many things happened to me following my IPL performance, as you know.
How do you look at your future?
I'm not unmindful of the fact that I've a lot to do and a lot more to learn as a cricketer. I've to persistently try to be as good a bowler as I could be. Of course, I want to play for India again. But the big factor on my side is my young age. My approach to anything in life is always positive. I think ultimately it boils down to hard work, to try and justify your talent and keep performing consistently well.
Image: Jaidev Unadkat during the IPL