On January 22 this year, the left-arm pacer, in an emotional post on Twitter, said, “Dear red ball, please give me one more chance. I’ll make you proud, promise.”
Dear red ball, please give me one more chance.. I’ll make you proud, promise! https://t.co/ThPUOpRlyR
— Jaydev Unadkat (@JUnadkat) 1641314519000
The 31-year-old finally got his opportunity in Dhaka during the second Test on Thursday.
Unadkat first earned his Test cap when he was barely out of his teens, against South Africa in Centurion way back in Dec 2010. It took him 12 years and 118 matches to return in India flannels. All this while, he nurtured the dream of a Test comeback.
In the process, Undakat became the second cricketer ever to miss more than a century of games between two matches. The record of 142 matches stands in the name of England’s Gareth Batty. The spinner returned to Test cricket in 2016 against Bangladesh, at the age of 39, after being out of the reckoning since June 2005. As the one-change bowler, Unadkat struck in his fourth over when a short-of-length delivery was lobbed by Zakir Hasan to skipper KL Rahul at fourth slip.
The ecstatic celebration from the bowler was understandable, considering he waited for more than a decade for his maiden Test wicket. He ended the day with figures of 2/50 from 16 overs.
Unadkat, who came into the team as a replacement for an injured Mohammed Shami, is a classic instance of a player putting in tireless hours on the domestic circuit to impress selectors. After going wicketless on debut, the now-seasoned warhorse worked tirelessly in not just becoming a better bowler but also an able leader who has led Saurashtra from the front.
Over the past six seasons, he has raked up 224 wickets at an impressive average of 19.5. In the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season he ended as the highest wicket-taker with 67 in 10 matches to lead Saurashtra to the title before the pandemic struck.
In West Zone’s Duleep Trophy title triumph recently, Unadkat picked up 13 wickets in three matches and hoped for an opportunity for a comeback would arise soon.
“It is going to be a long season and a lot of players are getting injured. So, the break might come,” he had said.