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Even if we are 60%, MS Dhoni adds the other 40% making us complete: Kuldeep Yadav

Kuldeep Yadav has been tough to fathom for batsmen over the past two years, helping India script ODI series wins, including their first ever in South Africa.

cricket Updated: May 20, 2019 22:08 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Kuldeep Yadav,IPL 2019,ICC World Cup 2019
India's Kuldeep Yadav during nets.(Action Images via Reuters)

Despite enduring tough times in this IPL and in the last ODI series against Australia at home, Kuldeep Yadav is crucial to India’s bowling plans at the World Cup. The chinaman bowler has been tough to fathom for batsmen over the past two years, helping India script ODI series wins, including their first ever in South Africa. The Kanpur bowler attributes his success to skill, and vows he will continue to attack batsmen at the World Cup.

Excerpts:

You arrived with a bang, taking wickets by the bagful. Did your being a chinaman bowler help surprise batsmen initially?

Not really. There was a little bit of advantage, especially when I started, as there was no other chinaman bowler. But it didn’t entirely give me an advantage. Eventually it boils down to how you spin the ball, how much air you are giving, tempting and deceiving batsmen and making them commit mistakes. It is not that I am a mystery bowler and always successful. I go for runs sometimes and I try and make a comeback. Skills are important, and how well you execute them is more important. If you are deceiving batsmen in the air or on the drive and the ball is turning, it comes in the skill category. If the batsman is unable to pick you, gets bowled or is leg before or stumped regularly, then it is mystery. My basics are good and my focus is on bowling like a classical leg-spinner.

Chinaman bowlers aren’t always the first choice. How difficult was it for you to take on the role as wicket-taker at the international level?

Confidence comes only if you have practised enough. I have been bowling this since childhood. I always had command over this skill. I never used to see myself as a chinaman bowler. I used to feel I am bowling like Shane Warne. So I always used to bowl like him, try to turn the ball like him. I never used to get scared even if I went for runs. I felt nothing should weigh that heavily on me that it makes me scared. That is a plus point for me. Sometimes I do go for runs and feel bad. But I know I can also get the batsman out. That is an advantage I had since childhood. That is the skill I have got.

The team management has shown plenty of confidence in you...

Yes, yes. The team management and support staff have helped me completely. Seniors like Virat bhai, Mahi bhai and Rohit bhai have given me the freedom to attack. Ravi bhai too. It has never been like I am a chinaman bowler, unusual, so I shouldn’t be taken seriously. The culture is not like that. They have always supported every kind of spinner. That is the good thing. So it feels good, gives you confidence. As skipper, Virat bhai backs you to the hilt. Because of that freedom, our success ratio has gone up. Mahi bhai has played so much cricket, seen the game from such close quarters, and he passes on his experience, about the pitch, batsmen. Even if we are 60%, he makes up the other 40%. It becomes complete. Sometimes we don’t know what the batsman is planning to do, so he keeps talking to us and telling us. It feels great. He has been with me since my debut. Both (Yuzvendra) Chahal and I have been lucky.

Before IPL, you spoke about focussing on bowling a restrictive length?

I was trying that for IPL. You can try it in T20 because the batsman always tries to hit out. In one-day cricket, you have to be attacking. Your chances are bright in ODIs only if you attack. The batsman can give his wicket. In T20, you think of stopping runs, getting a dot, and not give boundaries. The wicket demands it. If you give even a little bit of flight in T20s, it becomes easy for batsmen to go for big hits. So, I was trying to control that a bit.

But you struggled to get wickets, your strength, in IPL this time?

It is not like that. You will always not be good, sometimes bad times will come. Sometimes, the wicket will be good for batting, sometimes batsmen will play well. You get just four overs in T20 so one bad over can hurt you. I don’t think I bowled badly in IPL. I was bowling well and with rhythm. It is just that there was no luck, catches were dropped. The wicket at Eden (KKR’s base) has been good for the last two years, and was especially good for batting this time. Consistent grass was left, making it tough for spinners. If you see the record, spinners of other teams coming to Eden too struggled, and always went for runs. It is tough to bowl there. My strength is to bowl with flight and go for wickets. If you do that, you’ll go for runs. It is not like I went for runs in all the matches. I went for runs in one or two overs and you think my season went bad. It is cricket. It happens. You can’t always be perfect.

You struggled in the recent ODIs versus Australia. Your coach said it was because you had been playing continuously?

If you play too much cricket, you end up lacking somewhere. It is not that I was bad. I managed to take 10 wickets, which I think was the most for India. So you can’t say I was bad. In one or two matches if you don’t get wickets, people start commenting that your rhythm has gone. Even batsmen won’t hit hundreds everyday on good batting wickets. Yes, I was a bit tired because it was a long season. Wickets were also slow. When the wicket is slow batsmen get time, especially against wrist-spinners. If the wicket would have been faster or bouncier, it would have been easier to control the batsmen. Also, Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch batted well, credit to them. We had a long season against them, starting with Tests. If you play a bowler regularly, sometimes you end up playing him better.

Looking at the England-Pak ODIs, the wickets will be very batting-friendly where even 350 is not safe.

We can’t say anything about wickets or how to bowl on them from here. We are focussing on basics and skills. That is important. My approach in ODIs has always been to attack and for me it is important to take wickets in the middle overs. If I get wickets, then even 300 will be a lot for them. Our target will be to take wickets in the mid-innings. It depends on conditions. We have matured enough to plan a day or two before seeing the wicket. Also, both England and Pakistan have batted very well.

Your understanding with Chahal will be key.

We back each other to perform. Understanding has developed because we stay and spend time together even off the field. So, it becomes equally easy to interact and understand each other on the ground. We don’t need to discuss before a game or series, we just talk normally during the game. If he bowls first, he’ll tell me how wicket plays after his over ends. If I bowl first then I tell him if the wicket is helping turn, etc. Also, Mahi bhai helps a lot from behind the wicket.

First Published: May 20, 2019 20:38 IST