Kuldeep Yadav hasn’t had the best of times in the last couple of years. Kuldeep has played just a solitary Test match since his five-wicket haul against Australia in January 2019, which led to him being touted as India’s first-choice overseas spinner by coach,\ Ravi Shastri. The chinaman bowler has been downgraded in BCCI’s annual contract and couldn’t find a place in the playing XI for Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2021. He struck nadir recently as he was left out of India’s touring party for the WTC final and the England Tests.
The jury is out on what instigated this sudden and sharp downfall. While many link his dip in form to MS Dhoni’s departure from the scene, given he was a sounding board to the spin twins Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal, cynics have suggested technical adjustments like imparting more revs on the ball or bowling at a flatter trajectory. Or it could be something as simple as batsmen across the globe getting a hang of his variations.
In a candid interview given to The Indian Express, Kuldeep tried making sense of how things went from bad to worse in the last twelve months, probably the roughest patch of his career so far.
“It didn’t go well. I didn’t play as many matches as I expected to, and somewhere I was low on confidence. When you are playing non-stop, players do feel high on confidence. The more one sits out the more it gets tougher. I felt a huge pressure on me when I played the Test against England in Chennai this February. Due to Covid there was nothing happening, so things got really tougher even more last year. It wasn’t the best period,” Kuldeep reflected.
When asked about the specifics of his bowling, Kuldeep put a finger on the dearth of game time which in turn resulted in him getting too far ahead of himself when the odd opportunity presented itself. “I was not getting enough match practice. It makes a huge difference. It’s tough to make any adjustments when playing after a gap. I needed to do more in my bowling. I felt I was bowling well but I was trying too much at times. I was desperate to get wickets. I put more effort,’’ he pointed out.
‘’When I played that Test match in Chennai I was trying hard to spin the ball more. Mein jyada sochne laga tha. (I had started to overthink). Arun sir came and said that I need to keep it simple especially as I am bowling in a match after a gap of a few months. I had played after a long layoff. It was becoming difficult for me to get everything right,’’ the spinner added.
There’s no denying the fact that MS Dhoni has played a pivotal role in Kuldeep’s journey as the little tips and tricks he offered from behind the sticks proved beneficial more often than not. The youngster duly acknowledged the seasoned campaigner’s contribution in helping him flourish while conceding that he does miss his constant stream of inputs.
“When Mahibhai was there, I and Chahal were playing. Ever since Mahibhai left, Chahal and I haven’t played together. I played only a handful of games after Mahibhai left. I must have played ten-odd games. I had even taken a hat-trick. If you look at the performance as a whole, it will look pretty decent but if one breaks it up then my performance sometimes can look not up to the mark. One has to also look at the opposition we are playing against,” Kuldeep stressed.
Neglected for the England assignment, Kuldeep will be hoping to make the cut in the second-string squad that travels to Sri Lanka for 3 ODIs and 3 T20s in July with an aim to bring his fledgeling career back on track.
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