'Not surprised at India call-up' - Jadhav
Having returned to his hometown, Pune, just a couple of days ago after a personally-satisfying-yet-disastrous IPL campaign from his team's perspective, Kedar Jadhav was watching X-Men along with a couple of friends on Wednesday afternoon when his phone rang.
Jadhav was surprised that the Maharashtra Cricket Association president Ajay Shirke was calling him at a slightly odd hour but wasn't really surprised to hear what Shirke told him: he had received his maiden call-up to the national squad, for the three-ODI series in Bangladesh to be played next month.
"I was thrilled but wasn't so surprised. Somewhere at the back of my mind I knew that I was in contention in case a couple of regulars are rested," Jadhav told ESPNcricinfo." This is something that I have been working hard for all these years. I just hope that I can justify my selection if and when I get an opportunity in the XI."
With Jadhav's selection, the selectors have, in a way, sent out a signal to all the domestic cricketers that consistent performances may be rewarded, irrespective of a player's age. A comparatively smaller build gives him the impression of being in his early twenties, but the right-hand batsman is ten months shy of turning 30.
Through his decade-long first-class career for Maharashtra, Jadhav has been considered as a limited-overs' specialist. He has been a regular in the Deodhar Trophy (inter-zonal one-day championship) and the Challenger Trophy for half a decade. However, it took a phenomenal season with the bat in the Ranji Trophy for Jadhav to convince the selectors.
During the 2013-14 Ranji season, Jadhav tallied 1223 runs, the fourth-highest in a season in the tournament's history, to help Maharashtra make their first Ranji final since 1992-93. Following his six centuries in the Ranji season, Jadhav was one of the few bright spots in Delhi Daredevils' poor IPL campaign.
Though he scored only 149 runs in ten innings, his ability to consistently deliver under pressure and finish an innings stood out. With four Daredevils' matches remaining, a confident Jadhav told the IPL's official broadcasters in a pre-match interaction that he was hoping to be picked for the Bangladesh tour.
"With the IPL having prolonged the domestic season, it is imperative to do well in the IPL. Considering the reach of the tournament, it is imperative to perform in IPL, irrespective of the kind of Ranji or Vijay Hazare (domestic 50-over) season you have. I am glad that I could continue scoring runs even during the IPL, especially when the team needed them the most," Jadhav said.
Notwithstanding Munaf Patel's call-up to the national side in 2005-06 when the fast bowler was playing for Maharashtra as a professional, Jadhav is the first home-grown Maharashtra player to be selected for India in a decade. Dheeraj Jadhav, the opening batsman, was the last player from the state to be picked for an India squad, before the final Test of the 2004-05 home series against Australia and the tour to Zimbabwe the following year.
While Dheeraj didn't get an India cap, Kedar is hopeful that he will be more fortunate than his namesake.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo