Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Unadkat, fresh from winning the Ranji Trophy, said that the hunger to make an India comeback has never been stronger following a sensational season.

The left-armer picked up 67 wickets this season at 13.23, but 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 the hunger to make a comeback,” said Unadkat. “The hunger has never been stronger 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 [was tough],” he added.

“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.”

The 28-year-old last played for India in 2018, a T20 International against Bangladesh, and his only Test in 2010 as well as the 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,” the India Test No 3 added.

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 question about IPL does matter a lot to me,” he said. “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. Yes, there was auction happening and people were talking just about that but this [Ranji Trophy] was something I really wanted to win.”

“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.”