Kuldeep Yadav has taken 18 wickets in five games on the tour to UK with six wickets coming on Thursday in the first ODI against England. His sensational spell, fourth-best for India in the 50-over format. He’s enjoying plenty of purchase from the pitches in England with warm and hot conditions helping the wrist spinner further.
Talking about his sensational spell at Trent Bridge, Kuldeep said he had bowled on concrete wickets in his formative years, so to get turning tracks in England was working well for him. “Whatever cricket I played growing up, I played on cement wickets. I used to turn the ball on those surfaces so I am very grateful to be playing on turning tracks now. I feel very lucky,” said the elated spinner. “But, it is not just about the surface, and you should also have the ability to turn the ball. If your finger position is right, you are putting in the body effort, pivoting well and then the finger release is good, then the ball will turn. If it is turning on cement wickets, then it will definitely on such wickets (in England).”
In rich vein of form, Kuldeep is hopeful of a Test call-up as well when these two sides meet in the first five-day game on August 1 in Birmingham. “I am hoping to get the Test call, and then let’s see what happens when the squad is announced in the next couple days,” said Kuldeep referring to the first Test. Virat Kohli has also said that he might be tempted to play Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal in the five-Test series. Kuldeep has already played two Tests, Chahal is yet to earn the coveted cap in the longest format.
This wasn’t Kuldeep’s first strong show with the ball. In the first T20 of the three match series, he had finished with figures of 5/24 in Manchester. However, he couldn’t replicate the same magic in the second T20I at Cardiff while being left out in the deciding game at Bristol. He pointed out that the latter was down to team selection because of a grassy pitch, and that he didn’t really do anything different since the Cardiff game.
“Short boundaries (like in Bristol) have never made a difference for me. That wasn’t the reason, but the wicket had a lot of grass. It looked like a batting wicket. The coach said maybe we’d have to play only one spinner because fast bowlers have to play. Plus there were new players as well who needed to be given a chance. But it is a good thing I didn’t play and that’s why today the performance was good,” he said.
England had used Merlyn, the spin-bowling machine, to prepare for India’s lethal spin bowling combination in the T20s. But with things not working out in that department, it only makes their lives tougher that there is a small turn-around time to the second ODI at Lord’s on Saturday. Kuldeep said preparing against the bowling machine doesn’t help, because in game time, batsmen have to read spin off the bowler’s hands.
“I don’t believe in (practicing against) the bowling machine. If the ball is turning, and if you are not able to comprehend the turn, then it is difficult. In the bowling machine, you cannot see the hand or wrist of the bowler but the ball only turns on pitching. If you are not picking the ball (from the hand), then there is a huge problem,” he said.
“I never bowl looking at who the batsman is. In my mind, I am only thinking about how I can contribute to the team. Sometimes you are not able to perform and then you realise where you have made mistakes or gone wrong. So after the game in Cardiff, I looked at where I went wrong. Maybe I was not able to read the batsmen properly and it happens,” he added.
When queried if the English batsmen are having trouble reading him, he replied, “Definitely. I also think we are getting good wickets (to bowl on). Initially I think the wicket was very good to bat and they had scored 70-odd in the first 10 overs. We were hoping for a wicket and at the same time I was looking for a wicket. Luckily, I got three wickets in two overs and that really changed the momentum for us.”