Dubai: There are no prizes for guessing that Jaydev Unadkat, the leader among the Indian pace bowling pack in Rajasthan Royals, will be looking to carry on from where he had left off when the domestic season finished in March this year. The strapping fast bowler led his state Saurashtra to a Ranji Trophy triumph - and more importantly - was relentless on the often unyielding Indian wickets to finish with 67 wickets.
It’s a mindset with which he wants to go about his business on the UAE wickets for the Royals, who have - over the last few years - invested heavily on the 28-year-old international. ‘‘Over the years, my maturity level has gone up, which has shown in my bowling and worked well for me during the domestic season. My skill-sets are a lot more now and I have increased confidence in my abilities as a cricketer,’’ Unadkat said.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Unadkat shared the secret behind his rich haul last season and how the confidence levels could impact his campaign for Steve Smith & Co. ‘‘I prepared well physically for those long spells, I would credit my off-season training as it has helped me a lot with my performance. Steffan Jones was extremely helpful in that regard, helping me perfect my body for bowling which yielded the results,’’ he said.
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After finishing in seventh position last year, the ‘Halla Bol’ gang started off the new season in right earnest by being one of the first teams to arrive in Dubai and started to put in the hard yards from August 26 as soon as their quarantine period got over. ‘‘We were obviously one of the first teams to start training here and get going on the field. I think now that we’ve been training for a few days, we’re starting to get into some good shape and are working towards our required fitness levels.
‘‘It’s been really hot here and it took some time for all of us to get used to it. I feel we’re doing better now getting acclimatised than the initial days, so yeah in that sense, coming down early has helped. Hopefully, by the time our first match gets around, we’ll be ready with regards to both our fitness and the conditions here,’’ Unadkat felt.
The Royals, whose campaign are hinging a lot on the ‘Big Four’ of international cricket in captain Smith and the England trio of Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes (if he eventually makes the trip after his father’s illness), will be desperate to make the cut for the last four after the stop-start campaign last year.
Asked how he was looking at his team’s chances in IPL 2020, Unadkat said he believed in the time-tested plan of taking one match at a time. ‘‘See, we do have a very well-rounded squad, with a good mix of young and experienced Indian players along with some massive international players. I think as a group, our focus will be on doing the best we can for our team, it’s imperative that we give our hundred percent and perform well as a unit. We’ll take it match by match and will do our best to win matches and be there come the play-offs.
There is a lot of talk of wickets being on the slower side here – and may be progressively so – as the tournament wears on. How does the fast bowling unit of Unadkat plan to cope with it? ‘‘It’s a long tournament, so there is going to be that variance in conditions and pitches as we go along. As a unit, we would have to adapt and get used to surfaces on the go. I think we have an attack that can do well on different surfaces, we have a good variety in our bowling department, something we that gives us options to adapt and be slightly different through the course of this long tournament.
Being in town for well over two weeks now, how has life been in the bio bubble for him and the teammates? ‘‘Here in our bubble, we’re having a good time. The franchise have been really helpful in providing us with some brilliant facilities and have made wonderful arrangements to take care of us. The team room is a good spot where all of us hang out and chat while being socially distant.
‘‘The outside space, here in the resort is huge and helps us all to stay outdoors while being safe. We can train and at the same time relax either alone within our lawns or with other guys playing some games,’’ he added.