Rajkot: Now that he is a Ranji Trophy winner, Jaydev Unadkat hopes that "people" will not talk only about his IPL riches and says the hunger to make an India comeback has never been stronger following a sensational season.
Saurashtra skipper and lead pacer Unadkat picked up 67 wickets this season at 13.23 but more importantly bowled match-winning spells in both the semi-final and final in Ranji Trophy.
He took seven wickets against Gujarat and on Friday, dismissed a well-set Anustup Majumdar before effecting a run out in the same over to tilt the game decisively in his team's favour.
"I still have that hunger to make a comeback. The hunger has never been stronger than this and that actually kept me going throughout the season. To be honest, it was challenging physically surviving the season. Bowling those long spells as a fast bowler in almost every game," said Unadkat after captaining Saurashtra to their maiden trophy.
"I just want to keep this phase going. I don't want to end it here. Yes, we have won the trophy and I am the happiest captain in the world right now if I can say that.
The 28-year-old last played for India in 2018, a T20 International against Bangladesh, and he played his only Test in 2010 and last of his seven ODIs in 2013.
Sitting next to him and the trophy was his good friend and Saurashtra teammate Cheteshwar Pujara, who fully endorsed Unadkat's views.
"I agree Jaydev has bowled exceptionally well throughout the season. If someone takes 67 wickets in a season, I don't think there is anyone who can perform better in the Ranji Trophy. There has to be lot of importance to Ranji Trophy performance to get picked for the Indian team," Pujara said.
"Jaydev was modest that he would not be thinking about the Indian call but I will be surprised if he is not picked in the Indian team," said the Test specialist who too made a crucial contribution despite being unwell.
Unadkat, who twice went for the big bucks in the IPL auction and is a main player for Rajasthan Royals, is glad that he has achieved a long pending dream.
"The second question about IPL does matter a lot to me. I have been working harder than many guys, as hard as any other cricketer in the country to earn my rewards. It was not just the IPL on my mind at any time. Yes, there was auction happening and people were talking just about that but this was something I really wanted to (win Ranji Trophy).
"I wanted to do it for the team, I wanted to do it for myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I don't want to play the game for something other than cricket. I started playing this game because I was so passionate about it," he said.
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Both teams would be eyeing a second win to give their campaign a boost.
Archer, who played with a hand injury during the India series, is currently recuperating from a surgery and the duration of his availability during the later part is still not clear.
BCCI is also planning to drop five women's competitions from its roster.