A solid all-round performance gave India a comfortable six-wicket win over Australia in the series opener in Hyderabad. The top and middle order made vital contributions – Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli gave the middle order a platform from where MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav clinically finished the job.
But it was the collective effort of the bowling unit which really set up a relatively easy chase for India. While Mohammed Shami and Kuldeep Yadav were again amongst the wickets, the performance of another Indian bowler played a key role on the day as well.
Kedar Jadhav, with his unusual round arm action, once again, restricted the Australian batsmen in the middle overs and also picked up a crucial wicket, proving yet again that he is an invaluable member of this Indian team as they head into the World Cup.
Jadhav returned with match figures of 7 overs, 31 runs and 1 wicket, conceding runs at an economy rate of just 4.42.
Jadhav was introduced in the 15th over when the Usman Khawaja-Marcus Stonis partnership was in the ascendancy and threatening to accelerate.
He bowled two poor deliveries in his first three overs and was taken for a boundary off both.
But he just conceded 8 more runs in 16 deliveries. In his first three overs, he had bowled 9 dot balls – i.e. half the number of deliveries did not concede a single run.
However, Australia had moved to 87 for 1 after 20 overs and India needed to break the partnership desperately.
Jadhav broke the blossoming stand as he got rid of the dangerous Stoinis (in form batsman with a career average of 42.2 and strike rate of 95.25) – a half-tracker hit straight to Kohli at short midwicket.
Although Jadhav did not pick another wicket he continued to be extremely restrictive choking the Australian batsmen for runs. From 87 for 1 in 20 overs, Australia had crawled to 104 for 3 after 26 overs.
They had just managed 17 runs in 6 overs. Jadhav had bowled 18 deliveries for just 9 runs in this period – 9 of these – again 50% were dot balls.
He did not bowl any boundary ball in these three overs. He came to bowl one more over – the 43rd – in which he gave away just 6 runs.
Jadhav bowled 21 dot balls overall – which basically meant that he did not concede a run of half the number of balls he bowled.
He was only hit for three boundaries in his 7 overs – for the sixth bowler in a team, these are excellent figures. This has been Jadhav’s hallmark throughout his career.
He has an economy rate of 4.94 in the 32 innings he has bowled in his ODI career.
Jadhav has been the Number 6 bowler for India in 22 of his 32 innings. He has an economy rate of 5.03 from this bowling position.
He has been the fifth-most restrictive Number 6 bowler (min. innings 10 and overs bowled 70) in the world from his debut (Nov. 16, 2014) after Rashid Khan, Shakib Al Hasan, Sikandar Raza and Shoiab Malik – this is no mean achievement! Furthermore, he is India’s fifth-most restrictive bowler after Axar Patel, Bumrah, Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal during this period.
He has been more economical than the likes of Shami, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and even Bhuvneshwar Kumar in this time-frame.
He has also been an excellent partnership-breaker and always chipped in with quality opposition wickets – not surprisingly 20 of his 26 ODI wickets have been of batsmen between positions 1 to 5.
He has dismissed the likes of Kane Williamson and Tom Latham (twice), Babar Azam, Upul Tharanga and Steven Smith amongst others.
While India may have not yet solved the 5th bowler problem, they have indeed found an effective and dependable number 6 with the ball.
Jadhav also displayed his prowess with the bat in the run-chase, where coming in to bat in a pressure situation at 99 for 4 in the 24th over, he remained unbeaten on 81 off 87 deliveries and stitched together an unbeaten 141- run stand with Dhoni to take India to a comprehensive win at the end.
He has now scored 1083 runs in 36 innings at an average of 47.08 and strike rate of 105.65. Still early days, but just to give a perspective on how good Jadhav has been in his short career so far – for a minimum of 30 innings and strike rate of 90, Jadhav’s average of 47.08 is the third-highest in ODI history after Kohli and AB de Villiers.
Jadhav has batted from the Number 6 position in 20 of his 36 innings and scored 719 runs at an average of 65.36 and strike rate of 115.04, including two hundreds and two fifties – these are sensational numbers and no mean achievement.
In fact, this is the highest average for a Number 6 in ODI history (min. 20 innings) – higher than Michael Bevan (56.71), Michael Clarke (46.52) and MS Dhoni (46.33) who follow.
While Jadhav has still a long way to go to become a genuine all-rounder in the format, he seems to have made Number 6 his own in batting and in bowling for India in ODI cricket!