Explained: Why RCB picked up Kedar Jadhav as a replacement player, despite his poor recent IPL record
@swaris16 4 minute read
Kedar Jadhav has been picked by the Royal Challengers Bangalore as a replacement player for David Willey in the 2023 IPL despite not having featured in the competition since 2021.
Jadhav does not have the greatest IPL record, scoring 1,196 runs in 93 matches at an average of 22.15 and a strike rate of 123.17. Since the start of 2018, those figures dip even further, to an average of 14 and a strike rate of 98. He is also not really a bowling option in the T20 format, with only four wickets in the shortest format. He has never bowled in the IPL.
This is in contrast to his excellent career in ODI cricket. Jadhav, now 38 years old, was often called upon by captains MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli to break important partnerships in ODIs, and, though he ended his career with only 27 scalps in 73 games, he was an impact player, who was also reliable with the bat. Jadhav also averaged 42.09 with the bat in the format at a strike rate of 101.60 – a dual bar very few players in history have crossed – and emerged as one of the most underrated all-rounders to have ever played the game.
Jadhav also has better List A numbers than T20 figures. In 50-over matches, he averaged over 45 with a strike rate of 103.36 in 180 games and also picked up 33 scalps. He has played 155 T20s with an average of 24.35 with a strike rate just above 128. In the IPL, he has not been given regular chances, playing more than 10 games only five times in 11 seasons.
It came as a surprise. therefore when RCB named Jadhav as an injury replacement for the 2023 season after England seamer David Willey was ruled out. Jadhav has little white-ball experience of late. He did not appear in the 2022/23 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, was commentating on the Indian Premier League in Marathi before the call-up, and played only two Vijay Hazare Trophy games last season. He does however have first-class form, playing four Ranji Trophy games last season and scoring 555 runs at an average of 92.50 with a high score of 283.
So we have a cricketer with pedigree in List A cricket – but not T20 cricket – with diminishing IPL returns, and with his only recent form coming in first-class cricket. His call-up is perplexing at first, but could help solve a number of issues for RCB. Jadhav comes in with plenty of experience and could provide stability in the middle order for a team that is over-reliant on Virat Kohli, du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell. RCB’s batters from Nos.5-7 have made only 197 runs this season – the worst among all sides – with an average of 14.07. Their strike rate of 135.86 also ensures that RCB often do not end their innings with a flourish, which adds pressure on the top-order batters to stay till the end.
The form of Dinesh Karthik has also been an issue. In 2022, the wicketkeeper was lethal in the death overs, but a strike rate of just over 130 this year has let them down. RCB have a thin and inexperienced middle order, which is where Jadhav is likely to enter. His presence could add much-needed stability, both with bat and, possibly, with ball. Individually, only Mahipal Lomror from RCB’s middle order averages more than 20 (24.50), with Shahbaz Ahmad and Karthik averaging 19 and 15, respectively. Jadhav has also kept wicket and could be a backup to Karthik.
RCB’s bowling, barring Mohammed Siraj, has been unimpressive, with the spinners, in particular, lacking confidence. They have conceded runs at an economy rate of 9.45 – making them the third-most expensive team after Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders. The middle overs is where RCB often lose the game, giving away 9.76 runs – the only team to concede over nine runs an over between overs 7-15. The spinners have been on the expensive side, including Wanindu Hasaranga, and Jadhav could be a useful addition to that department as well. Or he’s an option as an Impact Player, if they are worried about his age in the field.
It’s a call that has to work. Royal Challengers Bangalore are currently sixth on the points table, with four wins and as many losses, and are set play five consecutive away games. The time to turn around their season is now.
If you look hard enough, you can just about find reasons why RCB have opted to bring in Jadhav. But given his declining returns in the IPL and the significant difference between his List A and T20 numbers, it’s a big gamble and it’s hard to see it paying off.
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