‘Kuldeep Yadav is very confident as a bowler now,’ says Rohit Sharma

Kuldeep Yadav is tight-lipped about how he feels about being repeatedly dropped from the team, although his childhood coach hinted as much to this newspaper. Kapil Pandey told The Indian Express, “He has understood that he has to perform in all the matches, he cannot do poorly in a single game, he will not even get such odd chances.”

How does Kuldeep feel about it? “Whatever opportunities I get, I try to do my best and give back to the best of my abilities. When you play you have to concentrate, while when you are not in 11 you can relax. Although team combination is important, I don’t think much about it, just focus on giving my best when I get the opportunity. Kuldeep spoke at the end of the second ODI, where he took three wickets as he battered the Sri Lankan batsmen with his variations at varying speeds.

Former bowling coach Bharat Arun once asked this newspaper to dispel the notions against Kuldeep. “It’s not the pace we want from him. I want him to get more fire through the crease. Getting that fire is a combination of working more on bowling and getting fitter. Strength doesn’t mean is that it has to fire fast.” It’s not just about speed. Once you get that pace through the crease, the whole body kicks into action, you get more agility. All the body components involved in the action work together – more sharp turns, more flaps, more loops. Remember the ball he (Kuldeep) bowled to dismiss Babar Azam in the 2019 World Cup? It had everything. Kuldeep knows what he can do and I am sure he can come back strong. A spinner really matures when he is 27-28 and if he maintains fitness after that. His career spans 10 years. I think Kuldeep will get there,” Arun had told this newspaper.

Looks like Kuldeep is getting there. The top spinner with whom he trapped Sri Lanka’s number 3 batsman Kusal Mendis was simply beautiful. 87.1 kmph delivery, loops it and goes straight inside with an angle. Mendis played for turn inside the line but it flicked the edge to trap it off the back foot in front of the stumps. Must have missed a googly or the batsman must have read it. One had to be a perfect topspinner to do whatever it took to get Mendis out and Kuldeep broke it down perfectly – release, trajectory, pace, length and line.

He also played some good shots while chasing the target and said that he is working on his batting. “I have worked on my batting, whenever I don’t get a game I keep my focus on that. I have also worked a lot on my fitness in the last one year, all credit goes to the NCA coaches. It has helped me get into my rhythm and become more aggressive. Yuzi [Yuzvendra Chahal] has always backed me, obviously he knew how the batsmen play, so he keeps giving me advice.

Captain Rohit Sharma also looked satisfied with his spinner. He said, ‘For him (Kuldeep Yadav) to come back and play the game that he played today, it was fantastic. Literally got us back in the game. They were batting run-a-ball and Kuldeep, as we have often seen, comes in and gets wickets. He is very confident as a bowler right now and that definitely augurs well for the team.

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