Kuldeep YadavAt first I showed Handscomb that I am going to bowl a wrong ‘un. And I bowled a wrong ‘un only, via cross-seam. Then I again held the ball cross seam, I showed him that I was going to bowl a wrong ‘un, but I bowled one that came into him. He thought I will bowl a wrong ‘un and went for a drive.
That one delivery, to remove Australia’s Peter Handscomb in the fourth Test at Dharamsala, epitomizes the player that is Kuldeep Yadav. He was incisive and fearless – and all of that in his maiden foray.
The 22 years old, who belongs to a rare breed of spinners, spun a fairytale on his debut, accounting for 4 big wickets. Now that’s some feat, given the jim-jams that can trouble a debutant; especially when he is playing for a team that already boasts of two world class spinners.
Kuldeep Yadav told The QuintI have gained a lot of confidence after my debut. Being able to contribute for the winning cause in a series-decider, in your very first game, is herculean. Many people came to meet and congratulate me when I went home after the Test series. It was a proud moment for my parents.
Kuldeep Credits His Captains
But he was quick to credit a part of his success to both the Indian skippers, permanent and stand-in. Kuldeep set the field for his overs from his very first ball, a luxury not enjoyed by many young debutants.
Kuldeep Yadav told The QuintRahane was very supportive. He allowed me to set the field for my overs, without much interference, and that helped me a lot. But I had equal support from outside the field too. Though Virat bhai was not playing the game, he was constantly supporting and cheering for me to keep me going. They kept telling me how important my wickets were for India. With such a lot of encouragement all around, I could hardly feel any pressure.
‘I Am Used to Sledging Because I Belong to UP’
In a series where verbal volleys predominated, the nervousness of a novice could have been cherry on the cake for the opposition. But the Kanpur-born bowler felt least intimidated. Why? Because, as he says, people from Uttar Pradesh are used to sledging!
Kuldeep Yadav told The QuintSledging is a part and parcel of the game, be it domestic, international or club cricket. I belong to UP, play for UP, and UP se zyada sledging aur kahi nahi ho sakti (There cannot be more sledging anywhere else than UP). And so I was unfazed by the verbal altercations.
In a country where cricket is a religion and Sachin is God, Kuldeep couldn’t have asked for more after the God of Cricket himself took to twitter to praise the lad.
@sachin_rt Thank you so much Sir 🙏🏻 Coming from you, this means a lot to me. I will keep try my best.— Kuldeep yadav (@imkuldeep18) March 25, 2017
“Cricket and Sachin are synonymous. Cricket itself means Sachin. And so it was a huge moment for me when someone, who is followed by billions on Twitter, tweeted to me,” said Yadav.
‘Barca Is My Everything’
Just when we thought the conversation was becoming too debut-centric, we changed the topic from cricket to football – Kuldeep’s second love. And the ‘huge’ Barcelona fan’s football craze was evident in his tone over the call, which became more animated.
Kuldeep Yadav told The QuintBarca hi mera sab kuch hai, (Barca is my everything!). I am a big Neymar fan and the confidence with which he wins matches. It is my dream to meet the Barcelona players some day.
‘I Trust my IPL Team’
With the tenth season of the Indian Premier League upon us, it was imperative to ask the spin wizard a few IPL-related questions. Kuldeep, who plays for two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders, admitted that Andre Russell’s absence in the team is a huge blow for the Shah Rukh Khan owned franchise.
“Russell is a very important player, in all 3 departments – batting, bowling and fielding. I cannot even explain how difficult it is to replace a match-winner like him” Kuldeep told before Colin de Grandhomme was announced as the West Indian’s replacement on Monday.
But the colt is also confident of KKR performing well this season.
Kuldeep Yadav told The QuintWe are a complete and balanced team that is performing consistently well since the past 4-5 seasons. Apni team pe bharosa hai mujhe (I trust my team).
When asked which team he thinks is the toughest to beat this season, Kuldeep singled out the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“RCB’s batting line-up is terrific, they have a strong team.”
Kuldeep the Batsman
A lesser known fact about the India’s only Chinaman bowler is that he is also good with the bat. In his 22 first-class matches, he has scored 723 runs with 117 being his highest score.
Kuldeep Yadav told The QuintI take my batting as seriously as my bowling, but obviously bowling is my department so I get more recognition for that.
If you compare Kuldeep’s debut with the way Narendra Hirwani broke through the Test scenes, with 8 wickets in his debut, or how Yasir Hameed scored two tons in his maiden appearance in whites, Kuldeep’s was not a dream debut, not by any standards. But unlike his predecessors, Kuldeep has shown enough determination to not fade away. Not any time soon.
Going by the gusto exhibited by Kuldeep on 23 March, fans can expect many more repetitions of ‘beauty…absolute beauty’ by the IPL commentators when India’s new spin star bowls.
(This article has been republished to mark Kuldeep Yadav’s first IPL match (Kolkata Knight Riders) this season. This piece was originally published on 4 April after the left-arm chinaman bowler shone in his debut Test against Australia in Dharamsala.)
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