India vs Australia: Kedar Jadhav, along with his finishing skills with the bat, has often produced wickets for India in tough situations. His most memorable performance with the ball coming against arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2018 Asia Cup as he picked up 3 crucial wickets.
The ICC World Cup has over the years been a platform where dark horses have excelled and sprung up a few surprises. Many eventual champions have benefitted from the performances of players who went beyond expectations and delivered the goods. This has been witnessed more in the bowling departments as teams have often found bowlers with a golden arm, who produced the goods in crucial moments.
The 1975 World Cup saw the imperious Windies benefit from the excellent form of medium pacer Keith Boyce. With front line pacers likes Andy Roberts, Bernard Julien and Vanburn Holder in their ranks, Boyce was mostly expected to provide the supporting act. But the Barbadian rose to the occasion and produced his career-best performance in a closely fought final to turn the tide in the favour of Clive Lloyd’s team. It is another matter that Boyce went on to play only one more ODI after the final of the Prudential World Cup.
The 1979 World Cup witnessed a great run from Pakistan, who made it to the semi-finals, before bowing out to eventual champions West Indies. The Asian giants were aided by the bowling form of their captain Asif Iqbal, who picked up 9 wickets with his dibbly dobbly part time medium pace and finished the tournament as the joint second highest wicket taker.
India found their man with the golden arm in Mohinder Amarnath in 1983 on way to a fairytale World Cup success. Amarnath’s medium pace was too hot to handle for England in the semi-final and the hat-trick seeking Windies in the final.
Steve Waugh produced the goods for first time champions Australia in the sub-continent in 1987, turning out to the be the perfect foil for the indomitable Craig Mcdermott. While Sanath Jayasuriya’s left-arm spin was as lethal as his marauding form with the bat at the top of the order as Sri Lanka brought about a paradigm shift in cricketing hierarchy in the 1996 World Cup.
In 2011, MS Dhoni’s India were led from the front by Zaheer Khan in the bowling department but the real surprise package was the left arm spin of Yuvraj Singh. The southpaw’s cutting edge batting in the middle order was also supplemented by his conquests with the ball as he picked up 15 wickets to add to India’s run to the title.
As the ‘Men in Blue’ start putting the finishing touches to their preparation for the big event in 2019, the spotlight is once again on a player who could spring up a surprise with the ball. Virat Kohli’s India is blessed with one of the finest pace and spin bowling attacks in the world currently, but they have received a fillip once in a while from a part time off spinner.
Kedar Jadhav, along with his finishing skills with the bat, has often produced wickets for India in tough situations. His most memorable performance with the ball coming against arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2018 Asia Cup as he picked up 3 crucial wickets.
One baffling statistic, which shows how crucial Jadhav the bowler has been, is that the off spinner has the highest percentage of top order wickets among Indian bowlers since 2016. Out of the total of 26 wickets that Jadhav has picked up, 22 have been top order batsmen. This clearly shows that Jadhav has mostly been used by the captain to break settled partnerships and the part timer has delivered on most occasions.
Jadhav’s peculiar bowling action, where in the unconventional release point makes it difficult for batsmen to get him away, could work wonders for Virat Kohli during the World Cup. Yes, conditions in England will not be conducive for spinners, but Jadhav does not depend on the surface anyway, his action and ability to control the flight of the delivery helps him catch set batsmen out of guard.
Jadhav might not be as effective as Yuvraj Singh was for MS Dhoni in the 2011 campaign, but he still could be a trump card for Kohli with the ball. In a long drawn format there could be a match when the front line bowlers have an off day and Jadhav is a man for those occasions and Kohli has used him well in the past on such days. 2019 could just be the Kohli-Kedar year.