Jaydev Unadkat
Jaydev Unadkat of Rajasthan Royals hopes to maintain the rhythm he showed in the first half of IPL in India. Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCCI

Kolkata: Jaydev Unadkat, who will be playing the leader of Rajasthan Royals’ pace bowling unit during the IPL 2021 in the UAE, is aware of the challenges of bowling at a venue like Sharjah with smaller boundaries.

A former international, who looked impressive in the first leg of IPL 2021 earlier this year in India, said: “It is harder to bowl when the boundaries are smaller like in Sharjah because the batsmen are more confident of clearing the boundary, but you got to accept the challenge and find ways to bowl. We know that those games are going to be high-scoring, so you got to be aware that even if you get hit, you must come back stronger.”

The 29-year-old left-armer, one of the most experienced members of the Pink Army with 85 wickets from 84 IPL matches, told the Royals: “It’s not about going for 24 runs or getting two wickets – it’s about restricting those boundaries. In a ground which is small and has flat wickets, every single ball matters. We’ve played quite a few games on all the grounds last season, and the wickets and the weather are going to be similar, and we’re confident that we can do well,” he said.

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The Royals, who finished at the bottom of the heap last year, is a looking for a turnaround in fortunes under Kumar Sangakkara, Director of Cricket, and new captain Sanju Samson. They will be flying out to the UAE with a completely overhauled set of overseas professionals as none of the Big Three - Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer will be available for the second phase of the tournament for a variety of reasons. They have announced Caribbeans Evin Lewis, a hard hitting opener, sharp and burly Oshane Thomas as replacements for Buttler and Ben Stokes on Tuesday while Kiwi wicketkeeper-batsman Glenn Phillips and South African left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi were drafted earlier.

Asked about personal goals in the UAE, Unadkat said: “I think I was bowling well and hopefully with the work that I’ve put in, I’ll be able to see those results coming out as well. I’ll be looking to get those crucial wickets and breakthroughs for the team with the new ball. Collectively, I think we’re placed right in the table and if we can get couple of wins from here, it can really boost our campaign this season.”

Playing the leader of the pace bowling unit, according to the captain of current Ranji Trophy champions Saurashtra, is not exactly a new one for him. “I think I’ve been playing that role in our team for the past 2-3 years because of the experience I have in the IPL till now, and I quite like to do it. Nowadays to be honest, it’s not about one leader in the pack, everyone who is coming in has played at the highest level somewhere or the other down the line.”

Being someone who keeps taking breaks from social media, Unadkat explained the rationale behind it: “I wanted to do some work with my bowling and wanted to go off the attention a bit. It’s always nice if you can have some time with only yourself and the family, and not really listen to what the outside world has to say about you.”

Unadkat’s fellow Saurashtra and Royals pacer, Chetan Sakariya recently made it to the Indian team and the former reckons it is just the start. “He’s a very honest guy, keeps working hard for his game so it’s good to see him get rewarded. He’s been doing that for Saurashtra and now he did that for RR as well. So yes, really happy for him and I believe he’ll only learn and get better as he’s quite young.”