Maharashtra bank on run machines Kedar Jadhav, Harshad Khadiwale
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While most Maharashtra players lounged on the grass at the Wankhede stadium, Harshad Khadiwale, his face dwarfed by his helmet, studiously rolled out his forward defence over and over. Khadiwale was the last to leave the ground after multiple rounds of throwdowns. While Khadiwale, perfected his defensive block, Kedar Jadhav, the other pillar of Maharashtra's batting this season, lolled about on the grass joking with teammates.
Over the season, this has been the way, both players have played for their state side. Khadiwale, plodding forward with his head steady and Jadhav chest thrust out, hammering bowlers around for fun. Both approaches have worked well. The 25-year-old Khadiwale, is the leading run-scorer this Ranji season with 930 runs from 14 innings at 77.50. Jadhav's pyrotechnics have also served the burly right-hander well, with his season aggregate of 863 in 12 innings putting him at number two on the run-charts. Interestingly, Jadhav's runs have come at a very healthy strike-rate of 80.20, the highest among the top-five run-getters.
On Wednesday, Maharashtra will be hoping that Khadiwale and Jadhav, two of their longest serving players come out firing. However, before this season, both batsmen had followed rather different scripts. Khadiwale, who made his debut as a fresh-faced 18-year-old in 2006, consistently scored runs but never managed to really kick on and make big scores. Invariably, the right-hander scored a ton or two at the end of the season, often getting starts but being unable to convert. However, this season, Khadiwale says, it was time to set the record straight.
"It was not like I was not scoring runs. However, getting hundreds and big scores right at the start of a season is a wonderful thing. It puts you in a very positive place and allows you to go into games with your confidence right up," he says. Khadiwale has already scored three hundreds and narrowly missed out twice, getting out in the nineties.