Rapture,exhilaration,absolute gratification. Scoring a century in any format of the game should ideally stir up at least one of,if not all these sentiments in a batsman. And especially so,if he has just hammered 107 off only 68 balls,and that too in a winning cause for his team. But try however he might,Kedar Jadhav couldn’t help but mask the sense of wariness with which he was welcoming his first century in over two-and-a-half years at any significant level.
His ton had helped Maharashtra kick off their Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign on a gung-ho note,beating Gujarat by 43 runs in a high-scoring contest at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s (MCA) BKC ground on Wednesday.
The Maharashtra middle-order batsman’s anxiety,however,was still understandable. After all,every single high in Jadhav’s still blossoming career has been followed by a prolonged trough. And one that he has found exceedingly difficult to fight out of.
The right-hander was his team’s leading light during the 2008-09 Ranji Trophyonly his second seasonaveraging 63.25,that too in the Elite Group,which won him a place in the West Zone team for the Duleep Trophy. And following a couple of unmemorable yet useful knocks,Jadhav suffered a poor run of form for two entire seasons,averaging 29.66 and 14.20 respectively while Maharashtra grappled for promotion in the Plate Division.
Elsewhere,he set the IPL stage on fire in his maiden innings,with an unbeaten 54 to lead Delhi Daredevils to an emphatic victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore back in 2010. On that day,the diminutive Jadhav outscored the likes of David Warner,Virender Sehwag and AB de Villiers. He has only managed 44 runs across eight innings ever since in the IPL,with half of those matches coming for the now defunct Kochi Tuskers Kerala.
To his credit,Jadhav readily accepts the blame for the ‘blow-hot,blow-cold for long’ trend that has characterised his career so far.
“I probably started taking things lightly and began relaxing too much whenever I experienced a high in my career. And moreover,I suffered mainly because of being satisfied with too little,which I am desperate to change from this point,” explained the 26-year-old mainstay of Maharashtra’s middle-order.
Skipper Rohit Motwani and Ankit Bawne,with a half-century apiece,had set up the perfect platform for Jadhav when he walked out to the crease. Always one looking to establish his dominance over the opposition bowling,the pint-sized dynamite strode down the wicket and flicked one of the Gujarat fast bowlers over the mid-wicket fenceone of his four sixes on the day.
The mighty six could have resulted in Jadhav then getting carried away and falling prey to a rush-of-blood,like he did on five occasions,missing a century during the Ranji Trophy. But this was to be his day,as Jadhav continued to find the boundary and eventually reached the three-figure mark off just 64 balls to set up Maharashtra’s mammoth total of 330/4.
Maharashtra had been beaten soundly by Saurashtra the last time he scored a ton,a 141 in Ahmedabad two years ago. And till he was at the crease,Gujarat opener Priyank Panchal looked set to spoil Jadhav’s party with a spectacular 113-ball 129. Ironically his innings was brought to an end when Jadhav held onto a clean catch in the outfield.
And while Maharashtra will now look to build on their impressive start,Jadhav is confident that his assault at BKC was a sign of things to come rather than the tipping-point of the umpteenth downslide.
Brief scores: Maharashtra 330/4 in 50 overs (Kedar Jadhav 107 n.o.,Nikhil Paradkar 87 n.o.,Rohit Motwani 71,Ankit Bawne 52) bt Gujarat 287 all out in 45.2 overs (Priyank Panchal 129,Niraj Patel 64; Samad Fallah 4/48) by 43 runs.