NEW DELHI: From being skipper Virat Kohli’s go-to-guy in limited-overs cricket to not finding a place regularly in the playing XI, Kuldeep Yadav has had a tough ride in the last couple of seasons.
Kuldeep last played in the three-match ODI series against England this year, but he was not able to take any wickets. In the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021, Kuldeep was not given a chance in playing XI by his franchise Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
In an interaction with ANI, Kuldeep opened up on the disappointment of not playing enough matches, how the team management has rallied around him and how he aspires to perform to cement a place in India’s T20 World Cup squad.
“To be very honest, frustrating wouldn’t be the correct word, as a player you are sad because you want to perform, you want to play the match. You can think like that, individually but not with cricket. Cricket is a team sport, and you have to play as per the requirements of the team. You have to think about the team and team combination matters a lot so it’s better to stay positive, keep putting in efforts, and wait for your opportunity to perform. Team combination for me has always been good, all have been supportive,” said Kuldeep.
Talking about the lack of game time, the 26-year-old said: “I think since the last year, I haven’t played as many matches. I haven’t got as many possibilities. Generally, when you aren’t playing, you don’t know as many match tactics. When you keep playing, you have confidence, you have command on your sport.”
“It is very important to have conversations with your team management. Arun sir and Ravi sir always have positive things to say. They used to tell me about the changes needed in bowling techniques, the pace, demand of the situation, etc. We worked on that, plans to tackle each batsman,” he added.
The spinner also said that there were times when he thought why he was not being given a chance by the KKR side even when they were playing on turning wickets like in Chennai.
“The thought that why aren’t you playing does cross your mind. As I said, combination matters a lot. The fittest gets to play. It was a little sad, that I didn’t get to play in Chennai, I was hoping to play but nevertheless nothing to be sad about. Just have to continue your efforts, your work, and hopefully coming back with good performance is my motto. There are good days and then there are bad days but your efforts should always be on,” said Kuldeep.
Kuldeep has been named in the squad for the upcoming limited-overs series against Sri Lanka where the Shikhar Dhawan-led side will play three ODIs and three T20Is. The spinner said that quarantining alone in a room can get challenging for any athlete.
“It is more difficult to quarantine in a bio-bubble because 7 days of quarantine is difficult alone. In a bio-bubble, you are with your team, with the players. It’s very important about where you are playing. Team management is very important, you definitely want to play but thoughts to better myself and what efforts to put so that you get to play matters more. It’s important to keep talking to everyone. I always keep talking to Virat bhai or Ravi sir or Arun sir, I used to feel very supported. I used to ask them how could I support the team in other small ways,” said Kuldeep.
When asked how confident is he about making it to India’s T20 World Cup squad, Kuldeep said: “For T20, nothing more than performance matters if you have to make space for yourself in the team. There is the Sri Lanka tour, then IPL, it will all be very important for me. I hope that I perform well to take place in my team. If I perform well in both the tournaments then hopefully, I’ll get a place in the T20 World Cup team.”
Lastly, talking about his bowling partnership with Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep replied: “It is always nice to bowl in tandem with Chahal. We both bowl with the same mindset, we were always attacking and looking to take wickets. We have not played much cricket together after the 2019 World Cup, when your partner is not there for you, you can struggle. If the partnership is good, then both guys involved do great. But in the end, team combination matters. When Hardik was not bowling, Jadeja came in and he did everything, so one of either me or Chahal got to play.”