Replacement, in any sport, is tough. Comparison, judgment and assessment disturb the natural flair of an impending future. But for India cricketer Kedar Jadhav – who won the Man of the Series award in the recently-concluded ODI series against England – it seems to be the hour of release. His acumen in the series held the vision of a future finisher, like Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The right-handed batsman, who can also roll his arm over (a plus, considering the lack of quality all-rounders today), may not have a great technique but he knows the gaps. He didn’t have a smooth start to his career.

After slogging for three years, he found his ground this New Year. The 31-year-old slammed a 76-ball 120 and a 75-ball 90 in the first and the last ODI respectively. He muscled the ball with such supremacy that experts clocked back time when a young Dhoni used to hammer the cherry in the death overs to finish a game. Well, like the Captain Cool (though not the skipper anymore), Jadhav also hails from a tennis ball background. He represented Rainbow Cricket Club (Pune) in the tennis ball tussles before donning the Maharashtra U-19 jersey.

The lad is aware of his heroics being compared to the former India skipper and he even credited the senior for guiding him. Though India lost the last ODI by a whisker, Jadhav fought tooth and nail.

“Ever since I walked into the team, I have been spending a lot of time with Dhoni and it has helped me deal with situations calmly,” he said.

“I would have been happier if we would have won the game but I am satisfied with what I have done in the series, I can still improve,” he added. He scored 232 runs in the three-match series.

Knowing the hour and rising to the occasion takes immense mental strength and Jadhav seem to possess all. He saw it coming. “After hitting the century in Pune, I thought if I continue with the same performance, there is a possibility of getting the award. The series against England is the turning point of my cricketing career,” reasoned the Pune-based cricketer, who can scoop, play the lofted shot, slice and dig a ball if it keeps low to find runs.

The limited over series against New Zealand set the stage for him. Jadhav didn’t make an impact (barring an unbeaten 39 in Visakhapatnam and a three-wicket haul in Mohali) as such but it acted as his reconnaissance. “Whatever runs I scored, it gave me confidence. Before the England series, I had a gut feeling that I will perform. For any player, having such a feeling is important,” he added.

But it is yet to be known as to why Jadhav couldn’t find a spot in the T20 squad. “I would like to play for India across all flormats, but I am not anxious. I want to express myself as Kedar Jadhav and not like someone else,” he said.

The cricketer doesn’t like to rest on his laurels, he is hungry for more; quite a find ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy.