Spinner Kuldeep Yadav explains why MS Dhoni behind the stumps is very important for him and Chahal.
Indian spinner Kuldeep Yadav has gone through a lot in the past year. The spinner who earlier was the key member of the Indian outfit now struggled to find a place in the playing11. Kuldeep was downgraded from BCCI’s contract list for the season 2021-22. In the recent conversation with The Indian Express Kuldeep Yadav explained how he struggled, doubted himself, and most importantly why MS Dhoni’s inputs from behind the stumps are important for the bowlers.
The 26-years old Indian spinner has got consistent setbacks from being on the bench with KKR and the Indian side to getting dropped from the Test squad for the England tour. A lot of experts reckon that he needs to have more pace and fizz while some uttered exactly the opposite.
Here are some of the questions which were asked to him in the chat.
How have been these last six months or so?
It’s very difficult. A very tough phase in my career. When you play consistent cricket you become more confident and you exactly know what lengths you are going to hit but when you sit out everything piles up. I was disappointed and didn’t know what to do. I was under pressure in my last test against England in Chennai (in January) and this Covid thing made it even harder for me. It was definitely not good.
Did all this lead to self-doubt to you?
I did sometimes but it all happens with you when you go through such a pale phase in your career. Many times I had this thought that ‘Perhaps, I am not anymore the same Kuldeep that I used to be’ but there is this other feeling that ‘Nothing has changed much, I am still the same.’
When you go and serve drinks to the players you feel that being on the bench is good for you but the next moment you see players out there in the middle, you feel that you don’t want to be benched.
I used to motivate myself and keep myself happy. But the down-time strikes you anyhow and you start to have self-doubts more often. I started to notice what the outsiders were saying instead of backing myself.
I had a chat with my coach Kapil Pandey and team bowling coach Bharat Arun, they all suggested that I must believe in the process and every other thing will be in place.
How does it feel to be benched?
No sportsperson likes to warm the benches. You have done well and you want to do more for the side and contribute to the team’s success. However, it all boils down to what team combination demands. You have no right to question that.
What wrong did you do against England in the Test?
I was so used to the outside chatter that I started taking their inputs. Arun sir, Virat Bhai and Ravi Bhai suggested me not to overthink. I bowled with more pace against England in my last test which was a blunder for me knowing that my ability is something else.
I have earned my name with my flighted slow deliveries and my ability to deceive batters in the air. I can’t be Rashid (Khan) who knows how to spin at pace. I realised that in all these years I have picked up wickets with slow balls. Pace deliveries are good for some variation but making it your prime weapon was my biggest mistake.
What do you make out of yourself, what went wrong for you?
I was not getting enough match time. It’s always tricky to place the ball and adjust the lengths especially if you are playing after a long gap. In the Chennai test, I was trying hard to spin the ball but was failing to find the right spot to pitch it. I was desperate for the wickets.
Bowling coach Arun told me to keep it simple as adjusting can be difficult. It’s super hard to bowl after a long layoff.
How is MS Dhoni important behind the stumps?
Mahi bhai is someone who understands the game very well. His cricketing brain is so sharp that he can deceive batter from behind the stumps. He used to give us valuable inputs and those actually worked. He constantly used to scream from behind the stumps which guided us to success. Now Rishabh is there, the more he gets exposure, the better he will become in the future.
When MS was there, I and Chahal used to play together. We had a good understanding. He knew our abilities and gave us inputs based on that. Ever since he retired, I and Chahal haven’t played games together.
If you see my stats it looks decent in numbers however if you compare them before MS Dhoni retired and after his retirement, there is a huge difference. My performance sometimes doesn’t look up to the standard of the Indian team.
What’s your next plan?
Nothing much to do. I need to do what I used to do earlier. I have to work on my bowling as well as batting. Need to follow the process and do what suits me best. I want to get back in shape and rhythm. The more I will play, the better I will become.