JP Yadav - The forgotten contender of India's All-Rounder Quandary
India’s quest for the next Kapil Dev had seen quite a few debutants strut their stuff in a few games for India in the late 90s to the 2000s, only to head back to obscurity. Jai Prakash Yadav happens to be one of them.
A quintessential Ranji pro, having honed his craft in the domestic circuit for close to a decade, JP Yadav was drafted into the team twice, in 2002 and 2005, for his uncanny medium pacers and power-hitting at the death. However, his start-stop career with the Indian Team never quite kicked off, as India’s search for an all-rounder moved across multiple tangents.
Playing 12 matches spread across two seasons, giving a measly return of 10 wickets at 54.33 and 81 runs at 20.25, with a lone half century, JP Yadav couldn’t quite replicate his more than decent numbers at the Ranji Level.
Though his international record is not something that will set eyeballs rolling, he will forever be a part of cricketing annals. Why you ask? Well, for being involved in the third highest partnership for the 9th wicket in ODIs. And almost dragging India to the unlikeliest of victories.
The year was 2005, a tumultuous year in Indian cricket with the Ganguly – Chappel fracture just about to disintegrate. Ganguly’s magic with the captaincy hat donned was on the wane and so were his batting exploits.
As the team headed to Zimbabwe, for a tri-series with the hosts and New Zealand, it wasn’t a dressing room that exuded confidence. New Zealand, on the other hand, were rampant with Shane Bond at his primal best. After decimating Zimbabwe in the first match of the series, New Zealand had a shot at the Indian team next.
New Zealand elected to bat, and huffed and puffed their way to 215, thanks to inspired bowling spells from Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan. The protagonist of the story, JP Yadav, chipped in with a handy 1-46 of his 10 overs.
As India came back to the field to have a hack at a rather humble target, Shane Bond happened. In a 7 over spell of sustained menace, Bond captured 5-13, as India slipped to a humiliating 8-44 by the 14th over. It was a spell of sheer magic and dominance, a testimony to what the world of cricket has missed owing to Bond’s shortened career.
Irfan Pathan, the No.10 batsman, joined JP Yadav, hoping to salvage some pride. Memories of the 54 all out against Sri Lanka just a couple of years back were sure to have haunted the dressing room and the viewers.
However, as the cliché goes, Yadav – Pathan had other ideas. As Bond was taken out of the attack, getting a deserved rest, the supporting cast wasn’t as impactful as him, as JP Yadav (69) and Irfan Pathan (50) started accumulating runs. It wasn’t a tailender style hacking at the ball or riding the luck kind of a partnership.
It was calm and sustained run accumulation. Every over they survived, the hopes of an Indian win were alighted just that little bit. Batting close to 24 overs, the pair put together 118 runs, bringing India to within 53 runs of victory with 14 overs to spare.
The match looked like it would go down to the wire and be an absolute humdinger. But, in the most anti-climactic of endings, Pathan and Yadav lost their wickets in a matter of 3 balls, as India slipped to a 51-run loss.
The 118-run partnership between the JP Yadav and Irfan Pathan was an absolute joy to watch, and for an hour and a half, it would seem like India had an answer to their all-rounder quandary. Pathan would go on to play for a few more years for the team, but JP Yadav only managed to add 7 more caps to his International career.
But, he will forever be remembered for this cheeky little innings, as a reminder of what could have been. He was composed through his innings, with a dash of cheekiness and innovation, that helped him collect runs amidst difficult situations.
Could JP Yadav have managed to seal his spot in the team for a few years, had he been given a longer run? Cricket had still not traversed into the power-hitting era, and he could have been a decent pick at No.8 position perhaps, as someone who could send down a tidy spell of 8-10 overs and get a 20-30 run innings ever so often.
Maybe not, as a few months post this series India under Dravid and Chappel embarked on a fabulous, and massively underrated, run in ODIs. Or maybe, he could have left a bigger mark on the team. Hindsight can be quite a mind-numbing exercise.Published 07 Aug 2018, 11:22 IST