Kedar Jadhav, who became an overnight star with a match winning hundred in the first ODI against England, says he got the benefit of batting alongside Virat Kohli, who is usually the prime target of the opposition bowlers.

“Whenever you bat with Virat it always helps you. The focus of the bowlers is always on him, things like how to get him out and how to contain him. So if you are at the other end in that case, you get benefited by getting the odd loose ball and bowlers also tend to take you little lightly,” said Jadhav, who made a career-changing 120 off 76 balls in the exciting run chase here on Sunday.

Jadhav and Kohli shared a 200-run stand for the fifth wicket to set up a famous win for India. The local hero did what many could not – overshadow Kohli with his array of strokes.

Jadhav came down the wicket to pacers and dealt with the slower bowlers with equal ease. His 12 fours and four sixes came all around the ground. His superlative innings was praised by none other Kohli.

Asked to comment on the straight hits he produced off pacers, Jadhav said: “I have played a lot of tennis ball cricket in my childhood. There used to be a tournament where only hitting straight sixes was allowed and you were out if you hit them anywhere else. So that is how I learnt clearing the 30 yard circle on a bouncing ball. The other day I was in full flow and was able to pull off those strokes,” he said.

The duo joined hands with India reeling at 63 for four in their chase of 351. Jadhav saw the precarious position as an opportunity.

“From the batsman’s mindset, you see the opportunity of scoring big as more fielders are inside the circle and at attacking positions. And in my particular case, the wicket was good, I could play my strokes. My natural game is anyway to take on the bowlers so I played with that mindset.”
“I play as every game thinking it could be my last. Whenever you represent your country, you have to give more than 100 percent so I try and make sure every time I get to bat, I will give more than 100 percent.”

He attributes his success to a strong self-belief which got a major boost when he batted with a broken hand during an A tour in Australia two years ago.

“Two years ago we went to an A tour to Australia and I was able to play decently not knowing that I had a fracture in my hand. The pain was the same even after 20 days of my coming back. It was at that moment I realised that if could do well with a fractured hand, then I can do it at the highest level.”

Has life changed post Sunday and he replied, “Phone kaafi aa rahe hain (I have been getting a lot of calls). To be honest, I have put the phone on silent. Some people might think that now I am behaving differently but I want to stay rooted the ground. My family and friends help a lot in these things. I don’t like talking too much about what has happened. I try to stay in present,” added Jadhav.

(All photos courtesy BCCI)