IPL 2020: A pivotal season for Rajasthan Royals’ Jaydev Unadkat after sensational domestic form

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With less than a month remaining for the 2020 Indian Premier League to get under way, preparations are in full swing.
2008 champions Rajasthan Royals are among the teams currently undertaking a pre-season training camp with their domestic players in Nagpur. While most of the Royals’ local roster is participating at their in-house facilities, Jaydev Unadkat is conspicuous by his absence.
The 28-year-old seamer is currently leading Saurashtra’s charge towards the Ranji Trophy title with an incredible individual campaign which has seen him claim 65 wickets in just nine matches. No other pace bowler in the history of the 87-year-old first-class competition has picked up as many wickets as Unadkat this season, and the Saurashtra man is now just four wickets shy of breaking the overall record held by Ashutosh Aman (68 wickets).
The left-armed bowler is well poised to attain that feat when Saurashtra and Bengal lock horns in the final to be held in Rajkot from March 9. With three 10-wicket hauls and a bowling average of just 12.16, it is fair to say that Unadkat has been nothing short of sensational with the red-ball.
But while he continues to scorch all wicket-taking charts in the domestic circuit, there will still be question marks over whether he can replicate that form for Rajasthan in the upcoming IPL edition.
In his two seasons with the Royals so far, Unadkat is yet to deliver the performances that would normally have been expected from a man who became the most expensive Indian purchase in the 2018 auctions. After a superlative season with Rising Pune Super Giants in 2017 where he claimed 24 wickets at a stunning average of 13.41, Unadkat fetched a whopping sum of approximately US$ 1.5 million (Dh5.7m) when bought by Rajasthan in 2018.
Jaydev Unadkat – 65 wickets; 7 five-wicket hauls in 2019-20 Ranji Trophy:- Second most wickets in a Ranji season.- Most wickets by a pacer in a Ranji season.- 3rd pacer after L Balaji (2002-03) & A Choudhary (2018-19) with seven 5-fers in a Ranji season.#RanjiTrophy— Sampath Bandarupalli (@SampathStats) March 4, 2020 It didn’t quite pan out for the seamer in his first season in Rajasthan colours and he averaged a dismal 44.18 with an economy-rate nearly touching 10 runs an over. Hence, it didn’t exactly come as a surprise when he was not originally retained by Royals for the 2019 season.
Heads were turned when Rajasthan once again went big on him in the auction and nearly ended up paying a similar sum ($1.1m) to add him back to their roster for 2019.
Again, Unadkat didn’t have the best of seasons and ended up with just 10 wickets which came with an economy-rate of 10.66. Despite those numbers, he will once again be donning the pink jersey of Rajasthan in the coming season after the franchise shelled out nearly half a million dollars to secure his signature for 2020.
Rajasthan are not traditionally a big spending force in the IPL and that makes their successive overlays over Unadkat even more baffling. The franchise, though, on their part, have always had complete faith in his abilities.
“Putting up him back in the auction pool in both seasons and then buying him back was sort of a strategical move to get him for a lower price,” Rajasthan Royals chief operating officer Jake Lush McCrum explained in an exclusive chat with Sport360.
“He always knew that we were interested in signing him and very keen on getting him back on board.
“In terms of the coaching staff, they have absolute confidence in his abilities. I think people get too hung up on his value in 2018 and 2019 and don’t actually look at his performances as they were.”
“One might just look at his general stats and not see the full picture. Like last year in the last game against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he picked up three wickets and won us the game,” McCrum continued.
“A match-winning performance is worth a significant amount in the IPL. In another match he might bowl three good overs and his last over might go for a few runs, but his third over might be the one that wins you the game.
“Like, if he takes an important wicket there.
Most wickets for a pacer in a #RanjiTrophy season ✅Ten wickets in the semifinal ✅Leading from the front ✅Watch Jaydev Unadkat's 7⃣-wicket haul in the second innings against Gujarat in Rajkot 👇https://t.co/4jWFaEptfW#GUJvSAU @paytm pic.twitter.com/2zjG3rYXSf— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) March 4, 2020 “That might not be noted by everyone when they just look at his overall stats and economy-rate. On our part, we are really confident in his abilities and we think he has performed better than a lot of players which we have tracked simultaneously.”
Unadkat himself will hope that his sparkling form for Saurashtra can help him turnaround his recent IPL woes for Rajasthan.
In the Ranji Trophy, it has been his ability to move the ball both ways that has been his primary asset. In the IPL, he will rely on his off-cutters and yorkers to do the trick.
There is no denying that he can be a threat with the white-ball as his 2017 IPL season showed. Much will depend on how skipper Steve Smith and the Rajasthan management choose to utilise him over the course of the campaign.
The expectations from Rajasthan and McCrum, are pretty high this time.
“We think there’s a lot more to come from his this year,” he said.
“He is the top wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy and he has performed well in all formats in the domestic season. He is firing on all cylinders and raring to go in the IPL.” Sport360

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