AFTER being sold for 11.5 crores to Rajasthan Royals to become the most expensive player in the last IPL season, Jaydev Unadkat kept saying that he took too much pressure on himself. He wanted to become the bowler of the match in every game and didn’t realize the pressure made him try too hard and fail. Bowlers like Khaleel Ahmed went past him in the India radar. “I wanted to get rid of these things — the selection, the hopes, the pressure of going there and performing daily. I have passed that low point now,” he says.
On Saturday, Unadkat bounced back with a 7-wicket haul for Saurashtra in their opening Ranji game against Chattisgarh at Khanderi. “I am top of the world!” he laughs. He shares how he beat the IPL blues and worked hard to come back with help from his sister Dheera and his friend Shobha Bhutada, an IPS officer. While his sister told him why was he taking so much pressure as “baaki log hain na team mein (there are other people also in the team, right?),” the IPS officer shared how she handles pressure in her work. “She told me how she deals with it but also said how she loves her job despite all the pressure. That love is important,” Unadkat recalls. “It was simple things like that helped me. I realised that the feeling good is most important – that determines your approach and attitude. These things will not last long – I may play for 10 years in all; so its important to enjoy the current situation.”
The last time he played for India was in March in a tri-nation tournament in Sri Lanka that also had Bangladesh. “I was taking too much pressure on myself. All that auction thing, the big money. I didn’t realize what was happening. The only thing which I manage to do well before the season was to get out of that attitude. I was expecting too much from myself and that is why I couldn’t do my best. You need a clear mindset, you can’t say I will be stand out daily; that pressure makes it difficult. I was not able to do it and got frustrated at times,” he says.
Some of the trolling he got on the internet was so harsh and rude that they can’t even be printed here. He was mocked and ridiculed. In the previous edition, in 2017 IPL, he had starred with 24 wickets with a best of 5/30 and at a great economy rate of 7.02. Then he was the third highest wicket taker in triangular tournament in Sri Lanka this March, with seven wickets in four games. Life was looking good but the blinds came down soon in the IPL where he managed only 11 wickets from 15 games at an economy rate of 9.65.
The post-IPL chats with sister and his friend, and the times spent with his family made him realise the errors of his ways. “Such things will not come from team mates because they understand what kind of expectation we player go through. I was playing each game as if I was giving an exam. The burden came with the big money coming in during IPL. The hype, in that flow of things, maybe I didn’t realize. I only realized later that am taking too much pressure on myself.”
Things does look difficult for him with respect to coming back to the Indian team. He says many people he meets bring up the topic of Khaleel Ahmed. “That he is your new competition, they say. But I never look at that way. There were times when India had two-three left-arm seamers playing at a same time in the team. He is not only the competition, it’s a group which is competing. I had ups and down in my career, the situation is not new,” he points out.
Instead of fretting, he has done the hard yards in the gym, focussing on getting fitter. “Trying to get those muscles in his legs. It has paid off. Fast bowling is about how hard you train. I bowled a 10 overs spell and two seven-over spells today. For me that is the result of training. I will push more now on training. Sab theek hoga aage, (Everything will get better in future).” At Rajkot: Saurashtra 475 all out vs Chhattisgarh 315/ 8