'Boss, this puppy fat you have na…': Ravi Shastri's exchange with Kuldeep Yadav | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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'Boss, this puppy fat you have na…': Former India coach narrates Ravi Shastri's unheard exchange with Kuldeep Yadav

Mar 01, 2024 10:35 AM IST

Former India bowling coach Bharat Arun recalled an instance when Ravi Shastri pulled up a struggling Kuldeep Yadav.

Kuldeep Yadav is at the top of his game and he isn't even 30 yet but the road to becoming India's second-best spinner after Ravichandran Ashwin wasn't easy. After taking the world by storm by becoming the only India bowler with multiple hat-tricks, Kuldeep had to endure the lowest of lows. He did not play a Test for India in over two years despite taking a five-wicket-haul against Australia in Sydney, and once Kuldeep injured his knee during IPL 2021 – where he did not feature in a single game for Kolkata Knight Riders – the world around him crumbled.

Kuldeep Yadav used to be a tad on the heavier side. (Getty)
Kuldeep Yadav used to be a tad on the heavier side. (Getty)

Bharat Arun, who was India's bowling coach back in the day, recalled a fascinating exchange that took place between Kuldeep and former head coach Ravi Shastri around about the same time, that perfectly summed up Kuldeep's fortunes. "Boss, this puppy fat you have na has to be melted away. I can't think of a single reason with improved fitness that you won't become a world-class Test bowler," Arun's memory harks back to Shastri's words in a chat with The Indian Express.

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Kuldeep, a few pounds heavier then, was out of action for several months following the knee surgery and a hairline fracture in his wrist in 2022, but turned over a new leaf on his return. It's almost a renaissance for Kuldeep, who has pipped Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja as India's second frontline spinner in Tests and definitely the leader of the pack in ODIs and T20Is. Recalling that torrid period in the spinner's career, Arun said the setback served as an eye-opener and paved the way for Kuldeep 2.0 to shine on in its full glory.

Also Read: Ravi Shastri issues sharp message for Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan, salutes Jay Shah over BCCI's game-changing move

"Any bowler can bowl quicker – that was never the point. It had to be done without sacrificing turn, loop and dip. And it was always about the energy through the crease. The ultimate result is a visible increase in pace. Not the other way around. Not going there and firing the ball. None of us are idiots! It was about being patient and working hard," Arun pointed out.

Improvement in fitness

Another area which the former bowling coach highlights about Kuldeep is the rise in his standard of fitness. Kuldeep was never the most agile fielder and would often struggle near the boundary, but this version of him is throwing himself around, putting in the dives and saving boundaries. What it's also done is aid his quick-arm action even further, giving him a split-second edge; couple it with Kuldeep's guile and variations and he becomes unplayable.

"How do you do that? Fitness certainly is a factor to bowl in Tests with that kind of energy. We always knew Kuldeep can deliver: Who can forget the ball he bowled in the 2019 World Cup to Babar Azam! How to sustain that through longer spells? When your release point's hand position is precise, you have a quicker arm speed. All the spinner's nuances can come through the wrist position," pointed out Arun.

"Now look at him, quicker arm-speed, that bustle through the crease, near-perfect hand position at release, and it's all going in the direction it ought to go – towards the batsman at the other end. With better fitness, his basics (of bowling action) taken care of, he is now actively channelling all his energy at the other end, trying to beat the man there."

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