Zimbabwe v India, 3rd ODI, Harare July 14, 2015

Happy I converted my opportunity - Jadhav

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'Batting first in every game was challenging' - Jadhav

Kedar Jadhav wasn't one of India's debutants in this series - he played his first ODI against Sri Lanka in November last year - but further chances weren't forthcoming, so his call-up for this tour will have been accompanied by added pressure to make use of the opportunity. A return of 21 runs from his first two innings here only increased that, but Jadhav rode his luck in his third innings to reach a maiden century and set up a series whitewash for India.

"It was a great opportunity and that's what I took it as," he said of his selection. "I knew it would be challenging here, so I was prepared for that and I always knew it wouldn't be easy to score in every game. I told myself that whenever I get going, I will stay to the last and make sure that my team wins. I'm happy that today I've got in, settled and then carried through to the end."

With this tour billed as an audition of sorts for a slot in the full Indian team's middle order, Jadhav's century will have strengthened his case - though Manish Pandey's 71 on debut will have done him no harm. "Whoever is the best, the selectors will pick. As far as this opportunity, Manish, me, Manoj and Robin got a good opportunity here. Luckily I converted into a hundred so I'm happy for myself.

"We never felt that it will be a 3-0 scoreline - we always knew that they would be tough to beat on their home soil. It was challenging, especially batting first in all three games, but our batters did an excellent job to put up a 250-plus score in every game. That's where I feel we won the games. I feel especially the death bowling is where they need to improve."

Zimbabwe believed they had had Jadhav caught behind when he was in single figures, and he was then granted a clear second life on 41, when Elton Chigumbura dropped a simple chance at backward point. He also had to deal with a pitch that offered something to the bowlers throughout the day. "It's the luck you need, and obviously I feel thankful to God because it's a lucky chance," he said. "Even when I was batting the ball was doing a bit so that is why we couldn't play our shots early in the innings. But it was good that Manish was going nicely so it gave me some time to adjust to the wicket. Later on when I got set I played some shots."

Jadhav accelerated after reaching his fifty, going from 50 off 64 balls to 105 not out from 87. His century, which he brought up with a swatted six, prompted an exhuberant celebration that included a belt-wiggling dance reminiscent of Salman Khan's moves in the film Dabangg. Clearly, Jadhav is a fan. "Obviously I'm a big Salman Khan fan so I always dreamed of doing such things. This was the best occasion to let him know. It was from Dabangg the movie - the title track."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

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