HAVING BAGGED 36 wickets for Punjab in Ranji Trophy last season and 16 for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL this year, playing for India A in the South Africa tri-series was an opportunity for medium-pacer 27-year-old Siddharth Kaul to impress national selectors.
The Chandigarh player, based in Zirakpur and working with State Bank of India in Patiala, scalped eight wickets in four matches, including two in the tri-series final during India A’s title win in Pretoria earlier this week. Kaul’s second-highest tally of eight wickets behind Shardul Thakur’s nine wickets also drew praise from India A coach Rahul Dravid and the Punjab cricketer is aiming to continue his fine form.
““Rahul sir is a legend of the game and he told me many positive things about bowling during the tour. Unke saath do minute bhi mil jayen toh who bhi bahut hai. Maine toh puri series kheli unke under. He appreciated the way I swung the ball both ways and he told me if Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar) can swing the ball both ways, then I can also do the same and achieve more with my bowling. I bowled in the death overs, too, and when I claimed wickets in the opening overs, Rahul sir praised me. His praise is like getting a trophy for me. Skipper Manish Pandey showed confidence in me and gave me freedom to bowl according to my plans,” Kaul told Chandigarh Newsline.
Having missed the opening match in the tri-series, which involved South Africa and Afghanistan A teams, Kaul, who faced competition from the likes of Shardul Thakur, Basil Thampi and Mohammed Siraj, utilised the conditions and his best haul of three wickets came against South Africa in the fifth match of the series. Kaul had earlier played in South Africa for the India A team in 2013 and that year had also seen him claim a career high of 43 wickets in one Ranji season.
“In South Africa, bowlers have to try a different line and length and the wickets have more bounce and there is seam movement also. My focus was to bowl close to the wicket and back of the length deliveries benefited me. It was my second tour of South Africa and I am happy to be among wickets. I am focusing on the process and my dream is to play Test cricket for India,” gushed Kaul, who trains under father Dr Tej Kaul.
Spending time with Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar in IPL has also helped Kaul. “Rahul sir told me that I am bowling like Bhuvi bhai. And, spending time with him in IPL while playing for Sunrisers always helps me. We discuss our bowling plans and sometimes, he also asks me. I am lucky to interact with such players,” added Kaul, who took 10 wickets during the India U-19 World Cup win in 2008 under Virat Kohli.
Kaul, whose brother Uday Kaul is a wicket-keeper batsman for Punjab, has also been training under gold medallist Abhinav Bindra’s mental trainer Dr Amit Bhattacharjee for six months. “There are pressure situations in every game and working with Amit sir has helped me a lot. It is important to be mentally strong at the international level. Having trained Abhinav sir, Amit sir knows what an athlete needs and we talked daily even during the South Africa tour. Things like meditation have helped my game a lot,” said Kaul.