Kolkata: Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav believes that getting to play the third test against Sri Lanka would be a result of all the hard work that he has put in so far.
Ravindra Jadeja was handed a one-match ban by the ICC for breaching it’s code of conduct during the second test in Colombo. This automatically led everyone to believe that the young Kuldeep Yadav might just get to play his first overseas test match. But after the BCCI named Axar Patel as Jadeja’s replacement, the competition for a spot in the playing XI has intensified.
The third test begins on the 12th of August at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. India already lead the three-match series 2-0.
However Kuldeep holds the advantage over Axar as he has been with the team since the beginning of this tour.
The UP lad would undoubtedly be a happy man if he gets selected but at the same time, he would be nervous as well since he wants to put up a good performance.
“Obviously there is excitement. I was excited to play my debut Test as well. So if I get a chance to play in Sri Lanka I will be very happy because this will be a result of my hard work. While I am excited, I am also nervous because I want to perform,” said Kuldeep.
He further added, “It is still not clear (if I will play) because there are three days left for practice. But ever since I have come here, (Ravi) Shastri sir keeps on motivating me. I have been doing nets and he has been talking to me during the nets from even before the first Test. It is a good experience.”
The young bowler made his debut for India in the whites earlier this year and absolutely rattled the mighty Australian batting in Dharamsala. His 4/68 in the first innings helped India clinch the Test series 2-1.
But ever since then, he has found it difficult to gain an entry into the playing XI but the humble 22-year old bowler understands that it’s not easy to get into the team when the top quality spinners are in the side.
“Definitely you will have to wait for your chance if the No. 1 and No. 2 spinners in the world are in the same Test squad. You cannot walk into the team so easily and you have to wait as that’s the rule of cricket. I try to stay with them mostly and keep talking to them and they help me a lot. So I have learnt a lot from them especially playing Test cricket with them,” he said.
He also added, “I have also been working with Bharat Arun for the past 10 years, ever since I was playing in Under-16 and then in Under-19 cricket too. I share a lot of things with him and he tells me a lot about bowling as well. He has been seeing me ever since I was a junior cricketer and he knows what I should do and what not to do.”
His consistency in the Indian Premier League (IPL) had earned him a call-up to the national squad for the West Indies tour after he narrowly missed out on making it to the Champions Trophy squad.
He had a successful outing with the ball in the Caribbean and now, he has been selected in the team as the third-choice spinner after Ashwin and Jadeja.
“For me, the single biggest important thing was playing in the debut Test. There cannot be a bigger moment than that. I was very nervous too, there was a lot of pressure and I couldn’t sleep at night. Obviously when you are close to achieving your dream there is nervousness and playing Test cricket has always been my dream,” said the spinner.
Speaking on his Test debut, he said, “In my head I wasn’t thinking who I am playing against, whether Australia or New Zealand, I was only thinking about taking as many wickets as possible. I just wanted to show what skill I have. And that is what I did. Anil sir and Ajinkya bhai both told me to just enjoy my bowling and do what I do in nets or what I have been doing since childhood.”
“And in my head, the first ball was very important. I wanted to bowl the first ball very well and that was my thinking. So when the first ball was good, and 1-2 overs went well, I grew in confidence and lost my nervousness,” he further added.
He played a crucial role in India’s ODI series win in the West Indies earlier this year.
Talking about his ODI debut, he said, “Ahead of the ODI debut I wasn’t as nervous. There was pressure in ODIs as well because the batsmen are attacking you. It took me three overs to settle down on my ODI debut before I figured out how to adjust my lengths as the wickets were very slow in the West Indies.”
He further goes on to say that the inputs from Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli helped him a lot.
“I also talked to Mahi bhai (MS Dhoni) and Virat (Kohli) bhai and it became easier for me to perform in every match. It helps if the captain believes in you as half your work is done. Captain’s belief is very important and Virat bhai supports me a lot,” he said.
However the 22-year old still might miss out as the wicket in Pallekele is grassy.
Nonetheless, the Chinaman is ready with his preparations for the Sri Lankan batsmen who have used the sweep shot a lot of times in the first two matches against the likes of Ashwin and Jadeja.
He said, “I didn’t plan anything in particular before coming to Sri Lanka. But I did work a little bit on my mindset because you are bowling on overseas wickets. Here wickets are a bit similar to Indian wickets so you do have an idea how to bowl. Only the batsmen are a bit different in terms of their approach so obviously I have planned a little bit.”
“Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne batted very well in the last Test. They played sweep very well. It is difficult for spinners if the batsmen are playing the sweep so effectively. But playing sweep also means a lot of chances for bowlers, so if you plan even a little about them it becomes very helpful,” he further added.