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Running Kedar Jadhav into shape

by Gaurav Sethi

It wasn't until the evening of 15 January, 2017 that Kedar Jadhav had been made to run so much in such a little time. As it is, compared to other batsmen, most of whom tend to be taller than him, he has to run way more to finish a single.
And there he was, running with the marathon man of Indian cricket. It was as if the 100 metre heats were Kohli's first choice sport. And left to him, Kohli would've been happy enough running with his predecessor, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Between them they could run all they like, and for Jadhav too.
Virat Kohli (R) and Kedar Jadhav run between the wickets during first ODI against England in Pune. Reuters
Virat Kohli (R) and Kedar Jadhav run between the wickets during first ODI against England in Pune. Reuters
But it didn't quite pan out like that. Dhoni holed out on just six off six balls with one boundary. His partnership with Kohli was worth seven. Hardly any running there. Before the partnership with Dhoni, Kohli had two more insignificant ones – with KL Rahul and Yuvraj Singh. The first lasted all of 18 balls, the next, a little over four overs. So you can imagine, poor Kohli was barely warmed up on a cool Pune evening.
In Jadhav, he saw the perfect bait - "I'm gonna run this little ball into shape, he'll only thank me for this later" (which of course he did in the post-match chat). Previously, Jadhav and Kohli had hardly, if at all, run together – maybe round the park at the same steady pace as part of the team, but Kohli's memory had no reminders of the speed of Jadhav's running between the wickets.
So here was Kohli, with Jadhav, India at 63/4, plenty to score, and even more to run. Jadhav was still fresh at the crease, his legs ready to scamper those tight singles, his throat set to yell out those quick calls.
Fifty runs later, it still seemed good, though Jadhav's big shots hadn't quite dimmed Kohli's appetite for those quick singles. A nudge here, a nudge there, there even seemed to be some harmony between the running.
But not for long. Kohli, who tends to ask as much of his players as he does of himself, was now running on some cricket-equivalent of that recreational drug, speed. Hundred runs had been added, and in the blink of an eye, 200, but Kohli's hunger for the extra run only grew. He wanted that quick single even more than the boundary or six. That's when he really started to push his partner – all arms, gesturing to Jadhav to run, run, run. To Jadhav's credit, he was sedate as ever. Invariably, a boundary from Jadhav followed.
Not that it stopped Kohli, though. It only whetted his appetite for the illusive single, that second run - and he wanted his partner, not quite Usain Bolt, to help him get it.
There were false starts, a show of hands, an admission that the single wasn't there, but that did not stop the quest.
Two hundred runs later, with five sixes and 17 fours, it was those singles and twos that added 99 runs (53 for Kohli and 46 for Jadhav) that got India to 263 - needing just 88 runs of 13.4 overs for an unlikely victory.
It sounds inane to say that without those 99 running runs, India wouldn't have even got a sniff, but that's how it is in big chases that begin badly.
To rebuild, there's only that much big hitting luck that a batsman can ride. To stitch a win this contrary to the odds, loads of common sense need to be prescribed. And therein lies the Kohli prescription, not just for himself, but for his mates - 'Run Jadhav Run'. (or 'Bhaag Kedar Bhaag').
There's no other way one man can keep winning you so many games chasing. It's the down and dirty work of running singles. The fours and sixes help but they're just the icing.
As for Kedar Jadhav, this century just made his workload a lot heavier. He can now expect early wake-up calls for the treadmill. And for company at the gym, who else but his captain. 
On your marks, Jadhav.
First published here

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