It is hard to believe that Jaydev Unadkat is still only 26 years old. The left-arm pacer has gone through the domestic grind for Saurashtra for years now and has seen it all. There was also a time when things weren’t going Unadkat’s way and he had constant doubts about the realization of his lifelong dreams.
The lanky pacer suffered a serious back injury in 2014 and his career was admittedly “going nowhere”. Along with the physical pain and suffering, injuries also bring in anxiety and mental issues. Unadkat went through all of the above. “That was the most difficult phase of my cricketing life. The back injury was due to stress. I made some minor changes in my bowling post rehabilitation which helped,” he says.
Jaydev Unadkat couldn’t impress in IPL 2015 & 2016
After this career threatening injury, came two disastrous IPL campaigns in 2015 and 2016. He only got play a match each in both these seasons and couldn’t do much in a tournament that has been regularly used by domestic and lesser known players to get the lights shining on them. Unadkat says he was obviously disappointed and disheartened at his lack of matches but had the belief that his chance would come.
He took 24 wickets in 12 matches including a hat-trick with best figures of 5 for 30 which meant he had finished second – behind Bhuvneshwar Kumar with 26 wickets in 14 matches. It was also the end of Pune’s two year stay in the IPL and the other eight franchises had taken note of Unadkat’s performance.
Rajasthan Royals IPL 2018 deal life-changing for Unadkat
The recently held 2018 mega IPL auction was ‘life-changing’ for the 26-year-old Unadkat as the reinstated Rajasthan Royals went all out to secure his services by shelling out a whopping INR 11.5 crore, making him the most expensive Indian and second only to Ben Stokes’ INR 12.5 crore in the overall list.When asked as to what he would like to do with so much money, Unadkat said: “It feels great but that (the money) is the last thing on my mind right now. I just want to go out there and give a good performance on the field.”Jaydev Unadkat has also quickly emerged as India’s preferred backup T20 bowler in the aftermath of Ashish Nehra’s retirement and is only behind Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah in that pecking order. He also reflected on his recent involvement with the national set-up in the home T20Is against Sri Lanka, saying: “I played in the T20 series against Sri Lanka recently and I think I did well. I would like to keep performing well and see how things go from there.”When Jaydev played his only Test, it was on a big stage, at Centurion in South Africa, he was all of 19 and stalwarts like Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag were still playing. He bowled 26 overs in the only innings the Proteas played without a wicket. So, with the benefit of hindsight, could he have done something else?“I have learnt from that game and the time since then, but I would not want to change anything,” came the reply.Jaydev Unadkat is still just 26 and is raring to go. Another good IPL and who knows.