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Saurashtra pace bowler, Jaydev Unadkat has been playing in the IPL since 2010. And for the first three years he was part of the Kolkata Knight Riders. This year, the 22-year-old pacer is donning the Royal Challengers Bangalore shade of red and gold.
In his fourth match of the tournament Unadkat finds himself in a strange situation as he prepares to take on his previous team. “It’s going to be special. For the first time I’ll be playing against KKR. Up until now, for me IPL has always been KKR,” Unadkat said on the eve of RCB’s home game against the Knights of Kolkata.
While the young pacer had an enriching experience with KKR of being mentored by Wasim Akram and guided by Brett Lee, he is happy to be in the RCB change room this year, where he has so far got more opportunities to play. While he managed only 11 games in the last three seasons with KKR, this year he has been part of all three matches RCB have played.
“It really boosts my confidence to know that the team management thinks I can do well on the field,” Unadkat said, before going back to the days in IPL 2012 where he spent all but one match on the bench.
“I passed through that phase during the last IPL season with KKR when I didn’t get to play many games. I was just sitting out and working on my strength and bowling. It is difficult, it’s not easy to sit outside and watch others play while waiting for your opportunity,” he admitted.
“But that’s a part and parcel of the game. Here we have some 10-11 fast bowlers in the team and not everyone will play all the games. RCB has been quite good for me till now in that respect.”
“I got the confidence from the captain and the coach and that’s really important for a youngster to come into a new side. I’m happy with the way I’ve done in the games I’ve played so far and I’m looking forward to continuing the same,” said Unadkat.
The left-arm seamer from Porbandar cannot thank his stars enough for the presence of India’s best left-arm pacer around him. Unadkat admitted that he’s been taking all the advantage he can of sharing the dressing room with Zaheer Khan.
“Personally, I have really gained a lot having him around. Right from the first match, I go and speak to him before every match about how I should plan to bowl on a particular wicket and conditions. For a youngster like me, or any other pacer in the team for that matter, his presence is helping,” Unadkat said, before sharing the positive signs of Zaheer recovering from his side strain.
“I don’t know at what recovery stage he is but he’s really working out and training a lot. So, perhaps, he’ll be playing soon,” he said.
Kings XI Punjab kick started the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 with an exciting win in an away game against the Pune Warriors India. Drawing upon that confidence, the team, under coach Darren Lehmann and the guidance of skipper Adam Gilchrist, will look to carry forward the momentum with a another victory under their belt when the take the field against the Chennai Super Kings in their first home game of the season. One of the highlights of their triumph in Pune was the fielding display. Saving even a single and pulling off catches from thin air on the field make a significant difference in the outcome of the game especially in the shortest format. Discussing the aspect, the KXIP skipper said, “Fielding was excellent but the game was set up by Praveen (Kumar) in the first over with the ball and everything seemed to follow. Everyone identified fielding as an area where we can get a jump over the opponents, if you execute that well it helps and the guys were brilliant. Gurkeerat's (Singh Mann) catch to dismiss a dangerous player like Ross Taylor is vital.”
Speaking about fielding coach, Mike Young’s influence he added, “Mike was here last year as well. We can see the benefit of that. No coach can walk in and expect instant success. It takes time particularly when you bring in new ideas. And he does bring in different aspects to our fielding. We also have some exciting young players who are eager to learn, so that fits well in the way in which Mike, Darren Lehmann and Joe Dawes go about their coaching. Fielding has been a highlight for us and we want to focus on that.”
“The way the bowlers summed up the conditions in Pune was fantastic. Obviously through the IPL we will have different conditions and different plans. The better bowlers and bowling units assess that as quickly as possible and they will be backed very well in the field. (And they will be successful). If they continue to bowl by the same standards we can say that’s their strength. It was the first time and we have to back that up now,” Gilchrist stated.
Asked about genuine quick bowlers in the game the veteran cricketer said, “Ryan Harris is right up there with some of the quickest. (Shaun) Tait and (Dale) Steyn are right up there in terms of pace, but Ryan is not too far behind some of the other bowlers in the competition. But we have a good variety in the type of bowlers we have.”
Giving an insight into the youngsters in the team he said, “Mandeep (Singh) played terrific knocks for us last year. He was a vital cog in the line-up. He has earned his place at the top of the order.”
“Manan Vohra has impressed us since coming in. He has been around this group for couple of years and trained with us couple of years ago. He wasn't able to get into the IPL then, but he has been patient. He has also been patient with the frustration of the Under-19 World Cup. So he has a lot that he wants to do. He has shown a great appetite to learn. It was nice to give him the opportunity and even better to see him take it with both hands. Hopefully he can continue the same.”
“Gurkeerat was great for us in a couple of games last year and hopefully he will get his opportunity this year as well.” Speaking about his own form and his role at the top of the order he said, “I'm feeling good. I hit a few balls over there. On that wicket we wanted to capitalise on the new ball. It was a low wicket and the ball was hard and the field was up and it was our plan to go out there and maximise that (in the initial overs). That brings with it a lot of risk and that is the role I have this year as well to go out there and get that start. If at times it means I get out early going for those shots, so be it. You've got to mix the good with the bad, but yeah in my short stay, I felt really good.”
While talking about the team he said, “It’s such a long season ahead in terms of the number of games. Teams can be fine now but stumble through the middle and vice-versa. Darren brings a lot of experience and focus to the group that is perhaps something maybe I as coach in a dual role didn't provide individually. And Darren has already brought that into the picture, set targets and set goals. But it is still early (in the tournament to say anything). We had a good first game and ticked all the boxes but now the challenge is to maintain that and it is exciting.”
Asked about the wicket, Gilchrist replied, “I haven't looked at the wicket yet, but I think in my couple of years of playing here, I can say it will be a true wicket. It’s always been one of the bouncier wickets in India but generally it is a nice batting wicket.”