“What tension? Jadhavs don’t feel tension.” Mother Mandakini brushes off all talk of anxiety in the stands where the family sat, watching son Kedar, play his part in India’s epic chase of 351 against England late on Sunday. “We know our boy’s ability. And you know how great Virat Kohli is. Bas, mag kaay tension?” says the wiry lady, sitting ramrod straight with a sparkle in her eyes on an easy couch at their flat, wearing one of her favourite green saris as mediapersons troop in and out of the drawing room of the Jadhav house.
The Jadhavs are part of a strictly middle-class neighbourhood off Paud Road in Pune — there’s a girni (flour mill) around the corner, the clean pathway leading upto the four-storey apartment (where Jadhavs own two adjoining flats on one floor) is lined with trees and two wheelers alike. You are bound to bend down at the low roofed entrance to the building to mind your head and on a busy Monday, to admire the elaborate Rangoli someone’s drawn up to celebrate the Kedar’s 120.
Two of his three sisters had headed to the Jadhav home in Vanaz — 10 minutes off the Express Highway on which the international stadium had risen on the horizon few years ago — for Sankranti. Black saris and finery in tow, with the traditional til-gul (a soft sesame-jaggery sweet) exchange planned as a family reunion, the sisters met Kedar the day before the match, as the youngest son dropped by for the annual ritual. “We never talk about cricket a day before his matches, and he’s also very relaxed.
“Nothing fazes him,” says sister Sucheta. “Our father always had leadership qualities and has a confident personality. Every single person in the family is capable of handling biggest problems and we’ve always faced challenges headlong. All these qualities have trickled down into Kedar,” she says.
Father MS Jadhav retired from MSEB in 2003 — a year before Kedar debuted in Ranji Trophy, and the family was happy that the four children had between them a English Literature PhD, an engineer, a Finance MBA and finally a sportsman.
“I used to wonder initially how come a good boy like Kedar drifted towards cricket,” the father quips, before he’s drowned out by protestations of the sisters and the mother. “He never liked studies much, and he was always good at cricket. The good thing was though he would disappear for hours on end to play, he would always tell us where he was going. No sneaking away, no secrets,” says eldest sister Charusheela.
A 80m long rectangular pebble strewn playground — with a neat joggers walkway around it in the adjoining Lokmanya Nagar was where Kedar started his cricket. It’s called the Jeet ground, though the original three-storey Jeet building facing the ground after which the tiny maidan took its name was razed down for redevelopment. “That’s where the tennis ball cricket started. He would announce he’d hit a big six and the ball would sail into the Jeet building terrace next ball,” Sucheta recalls.
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All his katta friends ended up with strong arms and weary shoulders as he would make them bowl to him for hours. And he picked up his first nickname in the neighbourhood. “They called him mini Sehwag, and he liked the name so he would tell people he is Mini Sehwag. There was never a shortage on confidence.”
The years spent waiting in the wings – he is 31 now – weren’t full of angst or frustration. “I’ve never seen him sad about not being selected for India when he was younger. He had great patience, even during those Ranji seasons when he wasn’t consistent. He is so sure of himself that we weren’t surprised that he would make good the chances he got,” says sister Sucheta. While he’d vroom away on his Yamaha — the kit-bag getting drenched every monsoon on his long trips to Cadence Academy, the family decided to buy him his first car for purely utility reasons.
A close knit family, Kedhar Jadhav never grew up as a spendthrift — though he was the baby of the family and much adored — and would hand his earnings to the family, and like in his childhood, borrow a minimal Rs 1,000 from his dad when he stepped out. Jadhav’s known for his love for clothes, sunglasses and belts. He is also famous for his Salman Khan fandom since his teen days. It wasn’t just how he celebrated his maiden ton in Zimbabwe — with the Dabangg hook step — it’s also his insistence on watching Khan’s films first day-first show in movie-mad Pune.
Like father, like daughter
The star of the family though is one-and-half- year old daughter Miraya, who’s inherited an uncanny love for dancing from father Kedar. “She can watch Salman on TV and start dancing to the exact steps, though she’s barely started talking. She dances to Jag Ghumeya though she’d just learning the words,” says aunt Sucheta.
Wife Snehal and mother Mandakini — who’s a little frail and was unsure of whether she could be at the stadium for 7-hour stretch — were not scheduled to travel, but the mother decided on a whim and then both baby and grandmum were packed up in woollens into the car to watch their first international.
“He loves stuffed brinjal and a tomato chutney, but I couldn’t make it this time he came,” his mother says, recalling how he’d gorged on it after making a 327 in Ranji Trophy after beating Mumbai last season. On Sunday, he chomped on the Englishmen instead. “We know his ability. It was great to hear people in stadium say with confidence that he would be Man of the Match,” his mother says. She never had any doubts.