IT was like any other Sunday for Jaydev Unadkat. He had driven from his home in Porbandar to Rajkot for his first practice session for the Saurashtra team, which is scheduled to take part in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
While he was rolling his arm over at the nets, Unadkat asked his team physio to call him whenever he went under hammer at the IPL auction in Bangalore. The moment came and Unadkat says everyone left the practice session and rushed to the dressing room.
“Ek phone ko 30 log gher ke rakhe the. Poori team toot padi thi. Koi chilla raha tha, koi halla kar raha tha. It was fun. All were celebrating,” Unadkat recalls the moment when Chennai Super Kings chief coach Stephen Fleming and Kings XI Punjab co-owner Preity Zinta were fighting to get him in their IPL teams.
“One moment I thought I will go to Kings XI Punjab but then suddenly Rajasthan Royals came in, and everybody started to clap. It was like a filmy twist,” Unadkat told The Indian Express.
On Sunday, Unadkat became the costliest Indian player of the IPL 2018 auction. The 26-year-old knew that CSK will go for him. After all, he had represented Rising Pune Supergiant last season where Mahendra Singh Dhoni was a team mate.
He had taken 24 wickets in 12 matches at an average of 13.41 and a decent economy rate of 7.02 in the 2017 edition. It was not only his performance last year that added to his CV. Unadkat bagged the man of the series award in the recent T20I series against Sri Lanka in which he took four wickets in three matches at an average of 11 and an economy rate of 4.88.
“I was not thinking about the amount. Last year, I did well and knew that Mahi bhai and (Steve) Smith will go for me during the IPL auction. What gave me a boost was that CSK went for me and Kings XI too wanted me in the side. The way they were bidding, I must be doing something good.”
With Smith in Rajasthan Royals, the Saurashtra pacer says it is more or less the same combination which represented Pune last year. Apart from Smith, the Royals also have Ajinkya Rahane, Ben Stokes and Rahul Tripathi. The heavy pay cheque of Rs 11.5 crore will certainly bring heavy expectations and scrutiny. “There was pressure on me in the past. Last year when I was in Pune, at one time I was just praying ki bus ek match mil jaye aur woh game achha jaye, so that I can do well from there on. I will try not to take any burden this time,” he says. “Nobody expected that I will go at that amount, especially as a bowler.”
The last year has been a steady one for the lanky pacer whose career has been up and down. And Unadkat says, “it’s up to me to take it to another level.” The phone has not stopped ringing and Unadkat has not even seen what’s in store on Whatsapp. He says he will see after a couple of days.
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