Once India’s first-choice spinner, Kuldeep Yadav has been going through a rough patch. In the last six months, he has only played one Test and two ODIs. His poor show saw the downgrade in BCCI’s annual contract as well as he couldn’t find a place in playing XI for Kolkata Knight Riders in now-suspended IPL 2021.
With this, his future looks uncertain as Team India have solid bench strength, and players are ready to replace one another in the playing XI as well. However, it’s been said he needs to bowl with more fizz and pace, whereas some have said the exact opposite that he needs to bowl slower as well
In a recent chat with The Indian Express, Yadav opened up about where things went wrong and how it affected him when he wasn’t playing in the IPL as well. While talking about last one year, he said: “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 (his last Test was in January 2019). Due to Covid there was nothing happening, so things got really tougher even more last year. It wasn’t the best period.”
While he was asked if he has started doubting himself, he added: “ I did, sometimes I felt, ‘what is going on?’. It was difficult times. Sometimes, the mind says, ‘ab shayad woh Kuldeep nahi rahe’ (Perhaps, I am not the same Kuldeep). Sometimes I feel, ‘no, I am still the same’ and I wait for the opportunity. There were days when you feel serving drinks and being on the bench is for the best – yaar yeh to best seat hai apne liye – and then but there are days you don’t want to be in that place. I would think, I should have been there playing. I tried to motivate myself every time. I try to be happy and feel that I am bowling well. There was self-doubt somewhere. It happens with everyone, I started questioning myself.”
However, he said that he started to focus on what others are saying about him instead of supporting himself. He also spoke to his coach Kapil Pandey and team bowling coach Bharat Arun and they both said to follow the process as well.
Meanwhile, he admitted that he tried to bowl with pace which went wrong horribly as it’s not his strength. His strength is flight and ability to deceive in air and turn as well which he should stick to. Notably, he has been successful because of slow bowling. Although sometimes bowling with pace can be good as a variation, he believes in the longer run, it wouldn’t take him where he wants to go.
However, he also shared that he misses former India captain MS Dhoni who used to guide all bowlers from behind the stumps. But he believes Rishabh Pant too will get experience with time.
“Sometimes I miss that guidance because he (Mahi) has great experience. He used to guide us behind the wicket, kept screaming! We miss his experience. Rishabh is there now, the more he plays, the more input he will give in the future. I always felt every bowler needs a partner who can respond from the other end,” Kuldeep Yadav concluded.
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