I'm learning everyday, says young Kuldeep

MAKING THE MOST: Kuldeep Yadav gave another demonstration of his talent by scalping three wickets on Saturday against Australia. AFP

Kuldeep Yadav, a regular in the shorter versions, gets to play Tests as often as he gets to bat in the ODIs.

Kuldeep made an impressive Test debut in March 2017 against Australia in Dharamsala but since then he has been given chances in the longer format only five more times, including the ongoing final Test against Australia here, over 19 months. The presence of two world-class spinners – R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja – gives him some chances of playing at home if three tweakers are picked in the XI but the lack of dependence on the slower bowlers while playing outside sub-continent, condemns him mainly to the bench with one of the seniors getting the lone spinner’s slot.

Kuldeep has been part of India's squad on the tours of South Africa, England and now Australia. Lord’s was his first Test outside sub-continent and it was a disastrous outing for the wrist-spinner in conditions tailor-made for seamers. He has carried drinks and towels for six more Tests on the road before getting one here. The Kanpur-born player admitted he is under pressure every time as he has to make a quick switch between formats. 

The thing with Kuldeep is you can’t play him if you are going with two spinners as he doesn’t give you the control that Jadeja or Ashwin provide you. As a wrist spinner, he is bound to leak runs. He can only operate freely if someone like Jadeja, known for his control, keeps the other end tight, allowing him to bowl to his strengths.    

“You keep playing regular white ball cricket then red ball and Test cricket comes and mindset changes, so you need at least 10 days as a leg-spinner to change your mindset from white to red ball and control things,” Kuldeep pointed out after picking 3/71 in Australia’s 236/6. The three scalps included Usman Khawaja, Travis Head and Tim Paine.

“If you are bowling in the nets, you can improve a bit but if you are playing more matches, you improve more. You need match practice, four-day and Test cricket is very different from one day and when I came from Lord’s Test, I bowled for a week with my coach and played India A four-day match series against Australia A. I performed well there because when you get rhythm there the ball comes out well and then I played against West Indies and did well. It was good, and it is important for any spinner. The more you bowl the better you will get. The match experience is very important,” he explained.  

While the third-day SCG pitch had a hint of turn and occasional bounce, it was far from being a minefield where Aussie openers picked up a lot of boundaries, exploiting the attacking field but with Jadeja maintaining the pressure with his tight lines and lengths, Kuldeep thrived once the opening pair was separated by the Saurashtra spinner.  

“It is important if you are playing with two spinners,” Kuldeep said talking about patience. “Jadeja bowls his overs quickly and bowls a good line so it gets easier to bowl from the other end. Then you can try different things and use variations. The wicket is quite good for spinners, there is turn and bounce, it’s a good wicket to bowl on.”

Learning curve 

Kuldeep strength is batsmen’s weakness to pick him, often failing to read which way the ball is turning. In England, however, his magic appeared to have waned a bit as some of the batsmen could read him from his hand and neutralise his advantage. The 24-year-old said England has been a great learning curve for him.     

“Sometimes it’s hard when batsmen are picking you, (but) that’s the beauty of cricket. You have to keep learning every day and I am still learning every day,” he offered. “England tour was challenging for me and especially the Lord’s Test match… I have worked on my bowling with my coach after that. For a spinner, it’s very important to follow the basic thing of spin bowling -- give a little flight, turn the ball, deceive the batsmen in air and land it in the perfect area. That’s more important for me and I am still working on that and I don’t believe in mystery. If you are good enough to deceive the batsmen in air that’s more important for me,” he explained.

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I'm learning everyday, says young Kuldeep


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