IPL 2020: Kolkata Knight Riders' Kuldeep Yadav has a huge surprise
India and Kolkata Knight Riders spinner Kuldeep Yadav working on a mystery ball during lockdown and is ready to unleash it at the Indian Premier League
The Coronavirus-forced break has proved to be a boon to mystery spinner Kuldeep Yadav. The chinaman bowler has developed a "surprise delivery" that he plans to unleash at the Indian Premier League.
The Kolkata Knight Riders spinner was working on the new variation ever since the country went into lockdown from March 25 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The India spinner, who has 104 wickets in 60 ODIs and 39 wickets in 21 T20Is, spoke to mid-day from his hometown Kanpur, where he's been rigorously training with his coach Kapil Pandey.
Edited excerpts from the interview.
How badly are you missing competitive cricket?
I have started practising again [here in Kanpur's Rovers ground] with Pandey sir. But, as far as international cricket is concerned, I am missing it a lot. The Indian team is like a family and we all are missing it. Here's hoping the situation normalises soon and cricket begins again.
How challenging will it be to get back on the field after this big break and perform?
Playing for India is the biggest motivation for me. This break was actually needed for every cricketer, who is currently playing for India. Probably, these three-four months will give us an added advantage when we start playing competitive cricket again. Everyone knows that we have been playing cricket continuously for the last three to four years and hardly got any time off. So, this is a good break. Hopefully, all the players will be in perfect physical condition as well as in rhythm when cricket resumes.
Have you tried anything new with the ball during this break?
I have used this time to learn new things and improve some basics as well. I am trying to bowl from different angles and also learning a few new deliveries. I have worked on improving my control. Apart from doing a lot of spot bowling, batting, fielding practice and workouts, I'm also playing a lot of practice matches regularly. The Rovers ground is very close to my house and luckily there are no COVID-19 positive cases so there's no problem here. I'm working on a surprise delivery and hopefully it will be ready before the IPL. I don't want to reveal more about it because surprise toh surprise hota hai [a surprise is a surprise].
Tell us about the role of your coach Kapil Pandey.
I believe every cricketer should have a big brother or a guru [coach]. You cannot notice your mistakes on your own. You need someone like a coach who knows the game well and works on it with you and can correct you. I feel lucky that right from my childhood I've been with Pandey sir. I get disturbed when I fail to perform in matches or even in the nets. But as soon as I speak to him, I feel better as he helps build my confidence. He has helped me maintain my focus and brought me back on track whenever I have erred. He has played some tough cricket [for Services] and insists that I play the same way.
Kuldeep Yadav during a practice session with coach Kapil Pandey (in blue) in Kanpur recently
How difficult is it to practice without using saliva?
At the moment, I'm trying to get used to playing without it [saliva] as that will help me when I return to international cricket. Right from my early days as a bowler, I have always enjoyed maintaining the ball using saliva and keeping the shine on one side. It became a habit because I get good drift while bowling. Initially, I felt that it would be a problem [to bowl well without using saliva] but I've learnt that even sweat helps in maintaining the ball.
How does skipper Virat Kohli inspire you?
Viratbhai sets very high standards for himself and the team and I'm learning a lot from him. His leadership inspires us to give our best at all times.
Are you ready for the IPL?
Definitely. I have been practising for the last two months. I am bowling regularly, batting and fielding too. I am ready.
And once I rejoin the [KKR] squad, I'm sure I'll be in good shape for the tournament.
Kuldeep should get more chances in Tests too: Coach
Team India's wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav is spending hours doing spot bowling and working on a high-arm action under the watchful eyes of his coach, Kapil Pandey in Kanpur. And Pandey, who has represented Services in first-class cricket, reckons the chinaman bowler could be a deadly weapon in Test cricket too if given a chance consistently. "Kuldeep's performance in white-ball cricket is outstanding but I feel he has bowled his best in the six Tests that he has played so far, taking 24 wickets. He can be a true match-winner in Test cricket if persisted with. He took five wickets in his last Test [against Australia at Sydney in 2019]. He should get more chances in Test cricket. If he was not playing for India and representing any other country, he would have had at least 200 Test wickets under his belt," Pandey said.
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