By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, April 4: However flat a wicket, don’t expect Kuldeep Yadav to shy away.
The chiman bowler, who on his recent India debut in the fourth Test against Australia in Dharamsala returned 4-68, does not rely on the behaviour of the 22-yard strip to take wickets.
“I bowl wicket to the wicket. Since childhood, I have tried to spin the ball on cement. My coach (Kapil Pandey) helped me a lot. I don’t see the pitch and bowl. I back my skills to get wickets,” Kuldeep told IANS in a telephonic interview.
Referring to his debut last month when the 22-year-old Kanpur boy removed opener David Warner for his first Test wicket, Kuldeep said he did not think of how the wicket will behave after bowling his first delivery.
“I had a few butterflies in my stomach while fielding. I was playing Australia and it was my first cap. I ought to be nervous. I was excited too.
“After I bowled my first ball, I felt a bit okay. It was a first day wicket and had no turn. But I never thought of it. As I said, I have bowled a lot on cement wickets so that I could get an idea of how to be effective on the flattest of tracks.
“The wicket does not matter to me. When there is no assistance (from the wicket) I have to bowl with more patience and keep trying to turn the ball,” he noted.
Kuldeep said he was very emotiol after his maiden scalp as coach Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli — out of that Test due to a shoulder injury — came to the boundary line to talk to him after he sent Warner back to the hut.
“It got very emotiol,” Kuldeep said.
“My dream came true in front of my eyes. I had waited for this for so long. Also I knew the team needed that wicket. They were 144/1 and the wicket got us back in the game.
“My teammates were very happy with me. The team won and that cannot be bigger than anything. Ajinkya (stand-in captain), Anil Sir and everyone motivated me. I was with the team for one-and-a-half months. During my stay they kept on pushing me to do well. Virat bhai, Anil Sir came to boundary to talk to me after my first wicket. It was special.”
Kuldeep went on to take the wickets of Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, and Pat Cummins in the first innings, helping India restrict Australia to 300.
In the second innings, after India posted 332 taking a 32-run lead, Kuldeep bowled just five overs as his senior colleagues — Umesh Yadav, R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja shot the tourists out for just 137.
Asked whether he felt intimidated by the constant sledging between the two sides during the fourth Test, Kuldeep said he is used to banter on the field playing his domestic cricket for Uttar Pradesh.
“It is normal for me,” Kuldeep said sounding unfazed.
“I am from Uttar Pradesh where on the cricket field it is normal. You have to be mature to handle it. This is part of cricket. You have to take it as motivation. Australians are known for sledging. I made my debut against a big team. It was big for me; so I focused on my game and not these things.”
Kuldeep was India’s leading wicket taker in the 2014 ICC U-19 World Cup in Dubai, where he also became the first Indian to get a hat-trick in the particular age-group World Cup. He will now play for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL starting April 5.
“I want to express myself in the IPL. In the IPL you feel pressurised as there are just 20 overs. It is important how you tackle pressure. It is a big challenge for me.”
Kuldeep signed off by talking about his takeaways from the India-Australia series.
“I want to play for a long time in tiol colours,” said Kuldeep, who was part of the India squad for the series against West Indies in October 2014 but did not appear in any of the matches.
“It was a great win for India. We fought back (after being one down in Pune). The credit goes to the team. I was so happy to have contributed to the victory.
“I got a lot of confidence after this series.I feel less pressure now. I have learnt so much from my seniors. Like how they start their day, how they behave and approach their cricket, how Virat bhai does things. He is such an inspiration,” Kuldeep said.
(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)