IPL 2018: Kuldeep Yadav will be under additional pressure, says KKR spinner Piyush Chawla

Last season, Kuldeep Yadav was quite raw and there wasn’t much expectation from him, says Piyush Chawla as the twice Indian Premier League champions, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) gear up for the upcoming season.
Kuldeep Yadav will have “added pressure” in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) season despite his recent impressive showing for India, feels his Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) teammate Piyush Chawla.(AFP)
Kuldeep Yadav will have “added pressure” in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) season despite his recent impressive showing for India, feels his Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) teammate Piyush Chawla.(AFP)
Updated on Mar 24, 2018 10:51 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Kolkata | By

For different reasons, which way the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) turns out for Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav will be scrutinised. Whether Kuldeep has successfully transitioned from being Narine’s understudy could be something we will know by the time 2018 IPL ends. There will also be a lot of attention on Narine and not all of it would come from batsmen trying to unravel his mysterious ways with a white ball.

(Read | IPL 2018: Corey Anderson replaces Nathan Coulter-Nile in Royal Challengers Bangalore)

“Kuldeep has bowled really well this season. So in the IPL, there will be additional pressure on him. Last year, he was quite raw so there wasn’t much expectation. But this year there will be. Having said that, I think the kind of bowler he is, he will definitely do well,” said Piyush Chawla of his Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) teammate who took 18 wickets last season.

(Read | Why Kolkata Knight Riders and Gautam Gambhir parted ways ahead of IPL 2018)

With Narine, KKR’s go-to man for breakthroughs and choking the flow of runs on way to IPL trophies in 2012 and 2014, it is different. “KKR may have taken a bit of a gamble with him,” said Subramanium Badrinath, a former India, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman. “He could be a little tentative to start with because once there is a cloud over your action it is difficult to be the bowler you were.”

(Read | How captain Virat Kohli transformed Yuzvendra Chahal – India spinner explains)

Narine is five shy of 100 IPL wickets but has taken 7, 11 and 10 wickets in the last three seasons. In three years before that, Narine finished with 24, 22 and 21 wickets respectively. And though he played all 16 of KKR games last term, Narine featured in only eight in 2015 and 11 in 2016.

“But he has added another dimension to his game, that of a pinch-hitting opener. Maybe that is why KKR retained him and (Andre) Russell; two players who can complete the all-rounders’ department,” said Badrinath.

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To that Chawla, in his fifth season with KKR, added: “Batsmen play safe with him (Narine) but that gives me and Kuldeep a chance to bag wickets.”

Chawla and Badrinath were speaking separately on the sidelines of the television show ‘Game Plan in Your City’ here on Saturday. KKR players Ishank Jaggi and Javon Searles too were present.

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The other spinner discussed was R Ashwin, who will lead Kings XI Punjab. “Ashwin will be looking at this IPL as one where he has a lot to prove. He has reached a stage in his career where he needed to look beyond his game and so the captaincy couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Badrinath, Ashwin’s former teammate in the Tamil Nadu team.

With Virat Kohli’s India preferring wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, Ashwin hasn’t played an ODI since June 30, 2017 and a T20I after July 7 last year.

Lot riding on Karthik, Rana

Badrinath said a lot could hinge on how KKR groom youngsters. They have Shubman Gill, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi from the world champion under-19 team and Rinku Singh, who is 20. “I saw them (India U-19 players) in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and they weren’t the same. Men’s cricket is tough and IPL is a different beast. KKR will have their hands full grooming these youngsters,” he said.

Badrinath said the KKR middle-order will have a lot riding on left-hander Nitish Rana and Karthik. “They are the certainties but only one of them (Karthik) has a lot of experience.”


    Dhiman Sarkar is based in Kolkata with over two decades as a sports journalist. He writes mainly on football.

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