South Africa v India, 1st Test, Centurion December 16, 2010

Unadkat in the swing of things

It's yet to be seen how the 19-year old will perform on the biggest stage in South Africa, whether he has the necessary skills and the mental fortitude to excel, but his coaches and parents believe he has what it takes
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Rambhai Odedera, Jaidev Unadkat's coach, chuckles at one memory. "Jaidev's great worry about becoming a cricketer was whether he'd have to start eating non-vegetarian food". It's an endearing and revealing anecdote about the boy from Porbandar, a coastal town in Gujarat more famous for producing the Mahatma. "He said, 'All fast bowlers, they say, have non-veg. Sir, I don't want to eat meat. What will I do?'" Odedera assured the boy that he could stick to his vegetarianism but Unadkat had another doubt. He was doing well at school and feared that cricket might derail his future. Deepak, his college-principal father, shared those concerns. Once again Odedera eased their minds, suggesting that there was a great future in cricket and it wouldn't affect his studies.

Unadkat's cricket journey had started when, aged ten, he would accompany his father to weekend games at a ground near the shore. His natural talent excited his father - who enrolled him in the Duleep school of cricket, an institution inaugurated by Duleepsinhji two months before India's Independence - and excited Odedera too. "He was a natural talent. His run-up and delivery stride was always smooth. Over the years, we have worked on the all-round development of his game. He now gets appreciable bounce, can bowl from round the stumps, and can swing the ball both ways."

It's an assessment shared by Praveen Amre, Unadkat's India A coach on a successful 2010 tour of England. "That's how he got those 13 wickets on his first-class debut against West Indies A on that tour. He is a really good bowler." That performance, and his earlier work in the Under-19 world Cup which got him an IPL berth, caught the eye of the national selectors who fast-tracked him into the national team.

It has been reported that Unadkat's stint with Wasim Akram in the IPL has honed his ability to reverse the ball. What's certain is that the IPL made his father more confident of a brighter future. It wasn't the cricket but how he handled the money and the fame. "There was the concern. Porbandar is a small place and he is a nice kid. When the IPL happened he showed how mature he was. His behaviour didn't change and he showed us he could handle himself. His mother keeps advising him on this and that; I just have full confidence in him."

"When he won the Man-of-the-Match award, he got 100 pounds. He took his team out to dinner. Small thing, but it shows his character."
Praveen Amre on Unadkat

The IPL's glam factor had worried Odedera too. "I remember the whole of Porbandar seemed to think it was a big thing. I told Jaidev not to let it get into the head. The IPL is nothing. Your aim should be to play and do well for India. You are the second cricketer [from Porbandar] to play for India. In 1932, [maharaja] Natwarsinghji of Porbander, who eventually started the Duleep school of cricket, was the original captain of Indian team that toured England on its first Test tour. In the end, he didn't play; CK Nayudu did. You have this great chance now to play for India."

Odedera recalls Unadkat getting very emotional and promising him that he would not only play for India but do well. Amre cites an incident from the England tour that highlighted his attitude and team spirit. "When he won the Man-of-the-Match award, he got 100 pounds. He took his team out to dinner. Small thing, but it shows his character."

It's yet to be seen how the 19-year old will perform on the biggest stage in South Africa, whether he has the necessary skills and the mental fortitude to excel. His coaches and parents are confident and hopeful. "He is a special talent and the selectors have granted him a great opportunity," Amre says. "It's up to him now, what he does with it."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 18, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    Right we have 3 pacers in the team who have played less than 30 test matches. It is an inexperienced attack without a leader. We should back them to perform well in the coming matches instead of throwing rants at them. There is no compassion for the experienced batting line-up though. It really seemed like they have under-estimated the Saffas of all people!

  • on December 18, 2010, 3:20 GMT

    I seriously feel INDIANS LOVE CRITICIZING their Cricket team, if they have had a bad day or match. The coffee table experts who might not even know the technical/mental aspects of cricket @ the highest level start calling names & suggesting weird things. GOD knows will these idiots learn to at least RESPECT our Cricketers. I am sure Unadkat will do well in future, he definately is a bright prospect. Though I agree that may be RP would have done well coz of the conditions & his prior experience. My Best wishes to Team India. Don't bother friends, there fools everywhere, who just love to criticize, as that's easy to do rather than facing fast bowling on a greenish top with someone bowling at a speed of 90miles/hr. Good Luck for the rest of the series!!

  • on December 17, 2010, 19:21 GMT

    like I said before, he doesn't belong at this level. I saw a couple of clips of him before the match, he looks like a hybrid paceman, he doesn't have the pace or bounce to bowl seam and he doesn't have the action to bowl swing. He was fast-tracked into the Indian team but he still looks like a genuine U-19 bowler. He needs a LOT of work to be anywhere near useful.

  • ahmedjawwad4u on December 17, 2010, 16:29 GMT

    They guy has'nt played a test and you have started comparing him to mcgrath and wasim akram. Where's your irfan pathan, srisanth, agarkar and a lot of other club level bowlers

  • on December 17, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    @Nampally, be serious man, pls have some respect to mcgrath, Undalkat compare with Mcgrath is Disrespect to Mcgrath,

  • arvin on December 17, 2010, 16:11 GMT

    unadkat is in the team coz of his godfather niranjan shah... after his first class debut match he just took 18 wickets in 7 matches... that is not a good bowler with potential...

  • on December 17, 2010, 15:58 GMT

    Don't celebrate this fellow. He just bowls around 120 kmh..not a great stuff. Remember what happened to Irfan who bowled at the same speed and is nowhere in the scene now. These military medium guys won't help. I am afraid we may lose 3-0.

  • Beertjie on December 17, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    One of my grandfathers also hailed from Porbander and settled in SA. Nevertheless, in this series I prefer India to win. However, I have to concur with @Ari DeAndrado about the team India being flat track bullies. All the stats about doing well in Australia of late can't hide the disappointment Indian fans are feeling (and are likely to feel over the next few weeks). Keep your heads up, fans, Zak may come back and dismiss Smith for ducks in the next tests. However, nothing will change the result. 2-0 to SA, because of the toothless attack. And how manmy runs will GOD make? What about Viru scoring another 300? Maybe at Newlands in a high-scoring draw, but never when it matters. Ouch!!!

  • darkmon.SL on December 17, 2010, 14:12 GMT

    Ouch numberr 1 in the world !

  • SamRoy on December 17, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    Saw Unadkat bowl today and honestly didn't see him get any ball to swing prodigiously though couple of his deliveries did seam off the deck. Prabhakar/Prasad kind of pace around 125-132 Kmph. Assessment: Not a bad future prospect, still not ready for Test Cricket and RP was much more promising than this guy when he first played in international crikcet (Pity RP's test career was destroyed by IPL). To people who think Irfan Pathan had more talent than RP as a test bowler; well, they simply don't understand test cricket (Stats normally don't lie and if one takes away Pathan's performances against incompetent test teams like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh he averages around 46 per wicket).

  • on December 18, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    Right we have 3 pacers in the team who have played less than 30 test matches. It is an inexperienced attack without a leader. We should back them to perform well in the coming matches instead of throwing rants at them. There is no compassion for the experienced batting line-up though. It really seemed like they have under-estimated the Saffas of all people!

  • on December 18, 2010, 3:20 GMT

    I seriously feel INDIANS LOVE CRITICIZING their Cricket team, if they have had a bad day or match. The coffee table experts who might not even know the technical/mental aspects of cricket @ the highest level start calling names & suggesting weird things. GOD knows will these idiots learn to at least RESPECT our Cricketers. I am sure Unadkat will do well in future, he definately is a bright prospect. Though I agree that may be RP would have done well coz of the conditions & his prior experience. My Best wishes to Team India. Don't bother friends, there fools everywhere, who just love to criticize, as that's easy to do rather than facing fast bowling on a greenish top with someone bowling at a speed of 90miles/hr. Good Luck for the rest of the series!!

  • on December 17, 2010, 19:21 GMT

    like I said before, he doesn't belong at this level. I saw a couple of clips of him before the match, he looks like a hybrid paceman, he doesn't have the pace or bounce to bowl seam and he doesn't have the action to bowl swing. He was fast-tracked into the Indian team but he still looks like a genuine U-19 bowler. He needs a LOT of work to be anywhere near useful.

  • ahmedjawwad4u on December 17, 2010, 16:29 GMT

    They guy has'nt played a test and you have started comparing him to mcgrath and wasim akram. Where's your irfan pathan, srisanth, agarkar and a lot of other club level bowlers

  • on December 17, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    @Nampally, be serious man, pls have some respect to mcgrath, Undalkat compare with Mcgrath is Disrespect to Mcgrath,

  • arvin on December 17, 2010, 16:11 GMT

    unadkat is in the team coz of his godfather niranjan shah... after his first class debut match he just took 18 wickets in 7 matches... that is not a good bowler with potential...

  • on December 17, 2010, 15:58 GMT

    Don't celebrate this fellow. He just bowls around 120 kmh..not a great stuff. Remember what happened to Irfan who bowled at the same speed and is nowhere in the scene now. These military medium guys won't help. I am afraid we may lose 3-0.

  • Beertjie on December 17, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    One of my grandfathers also hailed from Porbander and settled in SA. Nevertheless, in this series I prefer India to win. However, I have to concur with @Ari DeAndrado about the team India being flat track bullies. All the stats about doing well in Australia of late can't hide the disappointment Indian fans are feeling (and are likely to feel over the next few weeks). Keep your heads up, fans, Zak may come back and dismiss Smith for ducks in the next tests. However, nothing will change the result. 2-0 to SA, because of the toothless attack. And how manmy runs will GOD make? What about Viru scoring another 300? Maybe at Newlands in a high-scoring draw, but never when it matters. Ouch!!!

  • darkmon.SL on December 17, 2010, 14:12 GMT

    Ouch numberr 1 in the world !

  • SamRoy on December 17, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    Saw Unadkat bowl today and honestly didn't see him get any ball to swing prodigiously though couple of his deliveries did seam off the deck. Prabhakar/Prasad kind of pace around 125-132 Kmph. Assessment: Not a bad future prospect, still not ready for Test Cricket and RP was much more promising than this guy when he first played in international crikcet (Pity RP's test career was destroyed by IPL). To people who think Irfan Pathan had more talent than RP as a test bowler; well, they simply don't understand test cricket (Stats normally don't lie and if one takes away Pathan's performances against incompetent test teams like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh he averages around 46 per wicket).

  • ryanakajoey on December 17, 2010, 13:41 GMT

    this is the exact reason why india will never be considered the number 1 team in the world...CANNOT PLAY OUT OF INDIA!!!! An easy win to the proteas coming in this series...

  • Romansoul23 on December 17, 2010, 13:32 GMT

    @braindead_rocker: You did mention that Unadkat will bowl SA out for less than 100 but you forgot to mention how many times multiply 100. Say 4 or 5 x 100.............. LOL

  • Tendulkars_Tennis_Elbow on December 17, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    Vegetarianism 1 - Common misconception 0. Go Unadkat!!

  • Percy_Fender on December 17, 2010, 12:26 GMT

    The pitch appears to be turning quite a bit and it is nice to see Harbhajan bowl like he used to long ago.He is flighting well, is in the region of 52 to 55 mph and is bowling the correct line. The nastiness in th wicket of yesterday is no longer there just as the curator had predicted. He had said that if there is sunshine and the temperature is in the region of 36 degres the wicket will dry up and will eas up for batting. There may also be some reverse swing.I quite liked the way our pace bowlers were bowling too. They did not flag though the wicket was without any encouragement unlike yesterday.After watching Mitchell Johnson,I could see what a good coach can do to a struggling bowler low on confidence. In just a week Troy Cooley has made Johnson as good as he was initially. It is not wrongly said that bowlers win matches. If India has to retain its standing I feel we should rope in Cooley or someone just as good as bowling coach.This aspect has not got the attention that is due

  • Yaksha on December 17, 2010, 11:51 GMT

    @Ari DeAndrado, the problem is not that there are so many people and we can't come up with enough good talent. It is exactly the opposite. There are so many people to choose from and everyone is under pressure to perform otherwise there are people who can replace them. That's the problem. As far as your comment on flat track bullies go, take a look at India's record overseas. Sure we had a whitewash against NZ but it was in India. So, its India's fault. Sure we lost to NZ in NZ in a whitewash.. it is India's fault. Oh wait.. even NZ are home track bullies. We have had our success everywhere around the globe (except SA and Zimbabwe, somehow). Every team is home track bully, even SL! BTW, what has your comment to do with this article?

  • skdxb on December 17, 2010, 11:42 GMT

    Great, another trundler.. low 120s and very little swing and bounce.. How disappointing..

  • on December 17, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    I have been following Unadkat since his under 19 days. Sure he has improved in both pace and variation. But by no means can he be called a bowler who can swing the ball both ways. His vertical arm action wont allow him to swing the ball much. And this is where the responsibility of the coach lies. Subtle changes in their bowling actions like wrist position and good pivot would help them if done early in their career.

  • rpoduval2000 on December 17, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    @Ari DeAndrado - It is typical of a srilankan to complain that they would have been great had their numbers added up better . 1.3 billion underacheivers really ? Cant remember last time I heard about a famous Srilankan who made some impact iin the world arena( either now or if I go back in history - so dream on ) but UK too was a small nation look what they did - so that excuse doesnt hold water for me , but do agree with you 100% on the flat track bullies bit for indian team ..and I am a fan of the sri lankan team for the quality the have acheived of recent esp in bowling department.

  • on December 17, 2010, 6:31 GMT

    The Indian team is a bunch of flat track bullies. What a bunch of jokers. India is a nation of 1.3 billion undrachievers.

    If Sri Lanka had a population that big we'd massacre every cricket playing nation on Earth or for that matter the milky way galaxy!

  • seainfo on December 17, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    A Vegeterian fast bowler from the same town as the father of our nation. Another dikra from Porbander has gone to South Africa - Wishing him the best and hope that he too will return a hero like the Mahatma.

  • on December 17, 2010, 5:15 GMT

    There are lots of Vegan body builders leave alone those who dont eat meant. So foscu on your bowling and what you want to do with your life - the rest will follow.

  • Rameshkumar_G on December 17, 2010, 3:36 GMT

    All the Best...! Unadkat, you are holding the future of Indian cricket. Ishanth also got same chance on last SA tour. Now YOU..!

  • on December 17, 2010, 3:34 GMT

    Even Srinath was a veg when he started his career, but wasn't able to carry on with his counterparts. So an advice from Waqar made him to turn to non-veg. Fast bowling in cricket is the most demanding job, so Unadkad the sooner u change yr. diet, the better for your longevity. But before that, just prove u belong to this arena. All the best.

  • on December 17, 2010, 3:31 GMT

    Dying to see how the young man will bowl..May be world is going to see re-birth of Wasim Akram.. Kudos...

  • on December 17, 2010, 3:29 GMT

    All the best jaydev... you will do well ... Get Amla and kallis.. cheers!!!!!!

  • vaidyar on December 17, 2010, 2:03 GMT

    @SillyLeg: Venkatesh Prasad was a veggie, but doesn't really qualify as a 'fast bowler'. Srinath was for a while before he gave in to the demands on his body. But those were the 90s in India. These days it shouldn't be a problem with soy, whey and other protein sources available for the specific purposes of muscle building.

  • Nampally on December 17, 2010, 1:10 GMT

    It is the best surface to make a test debut for a fast bowler. Unadkat has been compared to McGrath by some, albeit a left handed one. He moves the ball and maintains good length and direction. He may not be as quick as SA pacemen but if he can bowl to his potential he will reap rich rewards on this nipping pitch and swinging conditions.Ideally India should have got at least 250 to have a fighting chance even on this surface. But is is left up to Ishant, Sree & Unadkat to see if they can contain the runs & get wickets.The big question is will the conditions be as favourable for pace bowlers tomorrow as they were today? Can the Indian pacement exploit them like Steyn & Morket did? Good luck to Unadkat and hopefully he will lead the side like Gandhiji did from the same hometown - porbander.

  • braindead_rocker on December 16, 2010, 23:33 GMT

    Unadkat will bowl SA out for less than 100..Be watching.

  • SillyLeg on December 16, 2010, 22:34 GMT

    Just Curious - does anyone know of a fast bowler who was vegetarian?

  • Reflect23 on December 16, 2010, 22:30 GMT

    Every top player is vulnerable for swinging ball ,right line and length, rest pitch is doing it .(best of luck).

  • on December 16, 2010, 20:50 GMT

    Good Luck..Just as RoyalG sd..keep it simple and enjoy the game...Best Of Luck.

  • Venkat_Super_11 on December 16, 2010, 19:50 GMT

    Hi Sriram, what an encouraging article when on the other side Sidharth is giving out to the Indian team! Well done to yourself and (y)our hero of the article, Jaidev. When he faced his first ball from Morkel, I could see (honestly) his thirst for doing something to survive and let his partner in MS Dhoni get the strike to boost the score. Nice work, Sriram. I am sure, this kid will get his days, if not today, at least tomorrow.

  • Razor88 on December 16, 2010, 19:40 GMT

    Really praying for him to Do well!! India has been Hanging in the edge Only thanks to it Variations..Expecting huge stuffs from him!!he could well be the man to replace Zak.I know its Early,But this is what they call Gut feeling!!.

  • on December 16, 2010, 19:30 GMT

    don't think Unadkat is good enough to be at this level but touching on this belief that no vegetarian can be a good fast bowler, its an absurd assumption. Usually its a presumption that stems from the belief that meats eater could be physically superior because of protein in meat, but there is more protein in enriched soy and lintel than meat.

  • royalg on December 16, 2010, 18:47 GMT

    i saw him in england too, when he took his 13 wickets, i remember the manager of the group was T.C.MATHEW and that uncle invited me to hang out with the team and remeber jaidev saying the treat was his and he was going to splash the cash for us :-D....gud luck buddy hope u make the country and state proud. lot of talent with the ball, hope he controls his nerves and enjoy the occasion and stick to the basics cause the pitch is doing PLENTY

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  • royalg on December 16, 2010, 18:47 GMT

    i saw him in england too, when he took his 13 wickets, i remember the manager of the group was T.C.MATHEW and that uncle invited me to hang out with the team and remeber jaidev saying the treat was his and he was going to splash the cash for us :-D....gud luck buddy hope u make the country and state proud. lot of talent with the ball, hope he controls his nerves and enjoy the occasion and stick to the basics cause the pitch is doing PLENTY

  • on December 16, 2010, 19:30 GMT

    don't think Unadkat is good enough to be at this level but touching on this belief that no vegetarian can be a good fast bowler, its an absurd assumption. Usually its a presumption that stems from the belief that meats eater could be physically superior because of protein in meat, but there is more protein in enriched soy and lintel than meat.

  • Razor88 on December 16, 2010, 19:40 GMT

    Really praying for him to Do well!! India has been Hanging in the edge Only thanks to it Variations..Expecting huge stuffs from him!!he could well be the man to replace Zak.I know its Early,But this is what they call Gut feeling!!.

  • Venkat_Super_11 on December 16, 2010, 19:50 GMT

    Hi Sriram, what an encouraging article when on the other side Sidharth is giving out to the Indian team! Well done to yourself and (y)our hero of the article, Jaidev. When he faced his first ball from Morkel, I could see (honestly) his thirst for doing something to survive and let his partner in MS Dhoni get the strike to boost the score. Nice work, Sriram. I am sure, this kid will get his days, if not today, at least tomorrow.

  • on December 16, 2010, 20:50 GMT

    Good Luck..Just as RoyalG sd..keep it simple and enjoy the game...Best Of Luck.

  • Reflect23 on December 16, 2010, 22:30 GMT

    Every top player is vulnerable for swinging ball ,right line and length, rest pitch is doing it .(best of luck).

  • SillyLeg on December 16, 2010, 22:34 GMT

    Just Curious - does anyone know of a fast bowler who was vegetarian?

  • braindead_rocker on December 16, 2010, 23:33 GMT

    Unadkat will bowl SA out for less than 100..Be watching.

  • Nampally on December 17, 2010, 1:10 GMT

    It is the best surface to make a test debut for a fast bowler. Unadkat has been compared to McGrath by some, albeit a left handed one. He moves the ball and maintains good length and direction. He may not be as quick as SA pacemen but if he can bowl to his potential he will reap rich rewards on this nipping pitch and swinging conditions.Ideally India should have got at least 250 to have a fighting chance even on this surface. But is is left up to Ishant, Sree & Unadkat to see if they can contain the runs & get wickets.The big question is will the conditions be as favourable for pace bowlers tomorrow as they were today? Can the Indian pacement exploit them like Steyn & Morket did? Good luck to Unadkat and hopefully he will lead the side like Gandhiji did from the same hometown - porbander.

  • vaidyar on December 17, 2010, 2:03 GMT

    @SillyLeg: Venkatesh Prasad was a veggie, but doesn't really qualify as a 'fast bowler'. Srinath was for a while before he gave in to the demands on his body. But those were the 90s in India. These days it shouldn't be a problem with soy, whey and other protein sources available for the specific purposes of muscle building.