In the recent South Africa tour, Kuldeep Yadav left a mark as he took 17 wickets from six games, which was the most by any spinner in a bilateral series in South Africa. He broke the record of legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, who took 14 wickets back in 1998. In a recent chat with CricketSoccer.com, the Chinaman spinner spoke about his experience of bowling in South Africa, his understanding with Yuzvendra Chahal and his goal in the coming Indian Premier League (IPL).
Here are the excerpts:
CricketSoccer (CS): How was the experience of your career’s first South Africa tour?
Kuldeep Yadav (KY): It was great. I didn’t dream that I would get that much success on Proteas soil. On their pace friendly tracks, I and Yuzvendra Chahal both bowled really well and I feel proud of my performance. But having said that I will give credit to Virat Kohli bhai and Ravi Shastri sir for their continuous support. It gave me a lot of confidence during the tour.
CS: You share a very good on-field chemistry with legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Is it one of the reasons behind your success in South Africa?
KY: I and Chahal Bhai are very good friends also off the ground. We spend time with each other, watching movies or having some food together. That’s the reason behind our on-field understanding. We complement each other. Obviously, we are very different types of spinners, me being a Chinaman spinner and Chahal Bhai is a leg spinner. We add a lot of variety in the Indian team bowling attack. Yes, our understanding helped me to do better in South Africa.
CS: How does one get the confidence of flighting the ball despite the ominous threat of getting hit across the park?
KY: If you don’t have confidence in your abilities then you can never deliver on the international stage. I have never feared to flight the ball, never thought about giving away runs. Since childhood, I have been used to getting hit but coming back to take wickets. Now when a batsman hits me for a six it gives me the confidence of getting him out. So I keep thinking positive and try to get the wicket for the team. Inviting the batsman for the big shot is something that I always try to do. There is no pulling back the length, changing the line or bowling a flat trajectory. It is up to the batsmen to take up the challenge and try to hit me.
CS: How would you analyse your own bowling?
KY: I try to keep things simple. I focus on my grip and keep it firm but not too tight, else I won’t be able to release it properly. Upon that there is alignment- body coordination is also vital. The better you co-ordination the more purchase and drift you can get. If you get the drift right then it becomes difficult for the batsman to play. But what is also important is to control the drift. I do not focus too much on pace. It generally varies from 75 to 85 kmph and I keep it at that. What I also like to do is set my field and plan accordingly.
CS: Do the Indian batsmen find it difficult to pick you? Who is the best at it?
KY: Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. But most of them are class players. Virat Kohli picks me the best.
CS: How are you preparing yourself ahead of Indian Premier League (IPL)?
KY: I had an injury when I returned from South Africa. I went to NCA for rehab. I trained hard under Narendra Hirwani sir to get back my fitness again. Then after returning to Kanpur, I did my training with my childhood coach Kapil Dev Pandey sir for 6 or 7 hours daily.
CS: You are playing for Kolkata Knight Riders since 2014. But do you think this year the expectations will be higher as you have established yourself in international cricket?
KY: I know that there will be more expectations from me as there are a lot of buzz about me, but I am a performer and I am habituated with this things. This year’s IPL will be a lot more challenging for me and I am ready for it.
CS: The nature of the wicket of Eden Gardens has changed a lot. It is helping the pacers. Do you think your job will be tougher?
KY: Yes it will definitely be challenging and as a performer, you need to face this challenge. I am not thinking that much about the pitch. Our spin department is very powerful. If Sunil Narine, Piyush bhai and me can bowl to our strengths we can destroy any side.