Kedar Jadhav, a part-time spinner with a knack of picking up crucial wickets, credits former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for identifying his wicket-taking abilities. Jadhav revealed how Dhoni's decision to hand him the ball in a One-day International (ODI) against New Zealand back in 2016 brought out the bowler in him. "Ever since Dhoni bhai asked me to bowl in that New Zealand match, my life has completely changed," Jadhav said.
Jadhav, who made a comeback after recovering from a hamstring injury, contributed with three crucial wickets in the Asia Cup clash against Pakistan on Wednesday.
"I don't bowl much in the nets. Honestly, I just bowl a couple of overs in the practice session before a match. I think if I try and work on my bowling in the net sessions, then whatever is there ... it might get broken. So I stay in my limit," said Jadhav, who has played 42 ODIs for India.
"We try to do what we're expected to do - bowling in the right areas, you know, keeping the pressure while the fielders are in the circle. If we stick to the processes, the results will take care of itself, and that's what I feel is happening," Jadhav said about his wicket-taking abilities.
The 33-year-old also feels a tweak in his fitness regimen after a surgery in April has also helped him become a better cricketer. "I feel my fitness has improved after my surgery, and in the last four months I have learnt a lot about training and fitness. It has definitely helped me and has made me a different cricketer.
"Every time I did my rehab previously, I used to start playing, (thinking) that the problems won't come back again. Many a time I also used to miss my routine, but now, regardless of how I feel, I start my day with either gym or running.
"That gives me confidence that I'm getting stronger and fitter every day, and that helps me on the field," said the 33-year-old, who did not get to bat against Pakistan.
India defeated arch-rivals Pakistan by eight wickets in the Group A clash and Jadhav is hopeful that he may get to make another vital contribution when the two teams meet again on Sunday in a Super Four encounter. "India-Pakistan matches are always exciting, we won and it feels good. But we treat every team with the same intensity," he said.
Jadhav was also asked about skipper Rohit Sharma's sublime half-century in the low-scoring game, he said watching him bat is mostly "unreal".
"When Rohit bats like the way he did, we know we wouldn't have to go in to at all. It's always exciting to watch him bat. It's unreal at times, you wonder 'how can that shot even be hit'," he said.
On whether the absence of regular captain Virat Kohli is an opportunity for players like him, as suggested by former skipper Kapil Dev, Jadhav said the observation is not completely off the mark. "When he bats, he doesn't get out. So yes, when he is not in the team, we get more opportunity to bat. But he is the backbone of our team. We definitely miss him," he said.
(With PTI inputs)