IPL 2019 | EXCLUSIVE: Owe my success to Shane Warne and Gautam Gambhir, says Kuldeep Yadav - Watch
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts,” these words of Winston Churchill could well define Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Dinesh Karthik’s decision to hand the ball to Kuldeep Yadav for the crucial final over against Delhi Capitals on Saturday. Delhi needed 6 runs to win off 6 balls, a mere formality one would think in T20 cricket. The ‘chinaman’ bowler had bowled the 18th over as well, but given Feroz Shah Kotla’s small boundaries, bowling a spinner in the final over was a courageous call.
Kuldeep repaid the faith shown in him by his skipper, as he forced the match into a super over. KKR might have lost the match eventually, but Kuldeep’s lion-hearted performance towards the end is quite characteristic of how his career graph has been over the past couple of years. Speaking exclusively to Hindustan Times, Kuldeep said that he thinks KKR have made a great start to this year’s campaign and making the finals is a realistic possibility.
“Till now it has been a great start for us. We were amazing in the first two matches at home. We played really good cricket to stay in the match against Delhi but you can’t predict what will happen in a super over, so I think we have done a good job so far. I am sure we will do well as we are playing good cricket. We lost in the knockouts last year but I believe we will make the finals this year. “ the left arm wrist spinner said.
Kuldeep made his IPL debut for KKR in 2016, but cemented his place in the side in 2017. He picked up 12 wickets that year and the performance earned him a place in the Indian limited overs team. The youngster has not looked back since.
“It has been 6 years now that I have been with Kolkata Knight Riders and they are like family to me. Everyone supports each other in the bunch. When I joined, Gautam Gambhir was the captain and Jacques Kallis was a senior player and continues to be our coach and I learnt a lot from them. Gauti bhai always motivated and supported me and always pushed me to reach the next level. I am a senior pro now and doing my job to help the team reach its goals and help them lift this beautiful trophy,” Kuldeep said when asked about the role KKR has played in his career.
The key to Kuldeep’s rise in limited overs cricket has been his ability to pick wickets, something that forced the team management to choose him and fellow wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal over the finger spinning duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. The left arm spinner’s ability to bowl an attacking line and length has helped him so far, but Kuldeep wants to evolve further.
“I really want to learn the skill so that I could avoid getting hit. Sometimes the batsman is able to hit you but my strength lies in giving air to the ball, in being able to spin the ball, and I back myself. But this is an aspect where I want to improve because it is good to be attacking but you have to think of the team as well and be able to save runs too.”
Having represented India in 6 Test matches as well, Kuldeep feels bowling with the red ball is much tougher, and said that it is difficult for bowlers to switch between the different formats.
“It is difficult to switch from white ball cricket to red ball cricket. It takes me good ten days to get the rhythm back when I move from white ball to red ball. I feel red ball cricket is more challenging. In Test cricket one needs to have patience and only then you can succeed. I think Test cricket is the toughest.”
Talking about the special relationship that he shares with Australian legend Shane Warne, Kuldeep said the leg-spinner has always been his idol.
“I watched him bowl in the 2005 Ashes series and from that day I wanted to become a bowler like him. He became my idol. I met him for the first time in Pune when we played a Test match against Australia. We spoke about a lot of things and when I went to Australia he helped me with a lot of tips. Ravi (Shastri) sir and Bharat Arun sir helped me understand what Warne was trying to convey to me. Every morning he came up with new ideas and helped me become stronger mentally and in terms of cricket skills. He is very close to me now and we chat on WhatsApp regularly,” Kuldeep said.
Since making his one-day international debut in June 2017, Kuldeep has been the most prolific bowler in the 50-over format, having picked 87 wickets in 44 matches at a phenomenal average of 21.74. He is being considered a vital cog in Team India’s wheel for the World Cup and the youngster is up for the challenge.
“There is a lot of pressure when you play for India and during a World Cup as the entire nation expects you to do well. The way I have been performing for India over the past two years, I am very confident going into the World Cup. I have bowled well against all the teams and I relish bowling in English conditions. I will go in with a positive mindset so that I can help the team win,” Kuldeep signed off.