Indian cricketer Jaydev Unadkat
Indian cricketer Jaydev Unadkat

Domestic grind helped me perform: Unadkat

His love for the longer version of the game became apparent more than ever in January when he typed a tweet that went viral.

NEW DELHI: Jaydev Unadkat did get his much-awaited chance with the red ball and he kept his promise with a spirited effort in his first Test for India after 12 years.

His love for the longer version of the game became apparent more than ever in January when he typed a tweet that went viral.

“Dear red ball, please give me one more chance.. I’ll make you proud, promise!” the left-arm pacer had posted.

“Everyone thought that I was referring to a national comeback. I was just missing red ball cricket in general as Ranji Trophy was postponed for a second time (due to COVID),” Unadkat said in an interview after his arrival from Bangladesh.

The 31-year-old, who had played his first and only Test way back in 2010 with the great Sachin Tendulkar and current head coach Rahul Dravid being his celebrated teammates, featured in his second outing last week in remarkable circumstances.

Having not been on selectors’ radar despite a record-breaking performance in the 2020 Ranji Trophy, a national recall came for Unadkat when he expected it the least.

He was not even part of the India A side that toured Bangladesh before the Test series, so one could not fault him for keeping his hopes to bare minimum.

Eventually, his patience and perseverance prevailed as he was flown to Bangladesh as a back-up pace option, with Mohammad Shami not regaining full fitness for the series.

The visa delays meant he could only reach Chattogram after the start of the first Test but against all expectations, stand-in skipper K L Rahul gave Unadkat the big break he was waiting for while toiling on the domestic circuit for years.

The opportunity came at the expense of spinner Kuldeep Yadav, whose exclusion after an eight-wicket haul in the series opener triggered a selection controversy.

The scoreboard would show that Unadkat took three wickets in his comeback Test but his impact was bigger in the game.

With years of first-class experience under his belt since his Test debut in South Africa, Unadkat relished the pressure. Getting the most out of flat tracks in Rajkot is something Unadkat had done for years and the Porbandar-born cricketer found himself in similar territory in Mirpur.

It did not take long for him to make his presence felt as he removed previous game’s centurion Zakir Hasan with a ball that jumped from good length. That was his maiden wicket in Tests and Unadkat says that moment will remain the most special of his career.

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