Kedar Jadhav has a chance at redemption in 2021. After struggling for the Chennai Super Kings over the past few years, his release from CSK allows him to make a fresh start.
And he has done precisely that ahead of the mini IPL auction scheduled for February this year. Before the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, you wouldn’t have been surprised if he went unsold like many ageing Indians before him have. After all, he is 35 and has scored just 248 IPL runs in the last 3 years.
But despite Maharashtra’s poor performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, Kedar Jadhav was one of the few shining lights for the team this year. The right-handed batsman scored 193 runs in 5 games, finishing as the side’s leading run-scorer.
More importantly, he scored the runs at a healthy strike rate of 133.10. Kedar Jadhav’s average of 48.25 was better than anyone else in the team as he hit a team high 11 sixes. Kedar Jadhav’s highlight of the tournament was his sublime 84* in the side’s 8 wicket victory over Chhattisgarh.
How Kedar Jadhav scored the runs was important as well. With the scoreboard reading 30/2 in a chase of 193 during one game, Kedar Jadhav put together a 166-run stand with Naushad Shaikh to guide his side to victory. This was precisely the situation Kedar Jadhav has struggled to get to grips in the IPL, and was criticised for his slow batting during CSK’s numerous failed chases last year.
3 teams that might sign Kedar Jadhav this year
Now, Kedar Jadhav has done his best to put his name into the hat. Multiple franchises are searching for an Indian middle-order batsman that can beef up their lower order.
Here are 3 sides who might try to sign Kedar Jadhav this year.
#1 Royal Challengers Bangalore
He played his best cricket for RCB in 2017, and he could once again flourish in the same team. Kedar Jadhav finished as the second-highest scorer after Virat Kohli that year, scoring 269 runs at a strike rate of 143.54.
If Royal Challengers Bangalore can get something similar out of him in IPL 2021, their punt on Kedar Jadhav would have been a success. The franchise has let go of players like Shivam Dube and Moeen Ali, and need someone who can score at a quick rate in the middle order.
While someone like Maxwell would be their priority, they need an Indian option to boost their bench strength. Kedar Jadhav can be an able deputy, giving Virat Kohli the flexibility to chop and change when it comes to its overseas players.
After playing at Chepauk in recent years, Kedar Jadhav would be licking his chops at the prospect of batting on the Chinnaswamy Stadium's belter. The move makes sense for RCB on multiple fronts. They don’t necessarily have to play Kedar Jadhav but can get him for a reasonable price and use him as a backup or a floater throughout IPL 2021.
Check the RCB retained squad for 2021 here.
#2 Kings XI Punjab
Agreed Kedhar Jadhav for Glenn Maxwell isn’t the correct way to go about it when replacing a power-hitting all-rounder, But in a year of a mini-auctions where not many international stars are available, Kings XI Punjab could do much worse.
The side’s middle order needs fixing and they need a dependable veteran to back up the firepower Kings XI Punjab have at the top of the order. Despite getting multiple games, none of Deepak Hooda, Mandeep Singh or Karun Nair scored more than 130 runs last year.
With players like Gayle and Pooran at the top, pressure on Kedar Jadhav to score quickly would be reduced too. If the batsman can do the simple things right and contribute every other game, he could be a solid addition to KXIP’s squad this season.
Additionally, an Indian batsman in the middle order could allow them to play an extra foreign seamer, as they try to rectify the death bowling woes that plagued them last season.
#3 Rajasthan Royals
Rajasthan Royals let go of Robin Uthappa to Chennai Super Kings earlier this month. Could they go ahead and replace him with Kedhar Jadhav?
The move certainly makes sense. Although the side has multiple openers in its ranks, they still need an experienced head to solidify the middle order. One can’t be sure whether last year’s hero Rahul Tewatia will perform with the bat once again, and Kedar Jadhav’s arrival will help add experience to a batting line-up that has lost both Uthappa and Steve Smith.
Getting Kedhar Jadhav could also allow Jos Buttler to return as an opener where he has performed the best for the Royals over the years. If Rajasthan Royals decide to get Kedar Jadhav, it will open up the possibility of playing him instead of David Miller, if the South African doesn't meet the expectations in 2021. That change could let them play another overseas all-rounder, thus improving the balance of the side.