India’s left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav has thanked the former and current skippers - MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli for guiding the entire team on a triumphant tour of South Africa. Kuldeep had a memorable tour of South Africa, taking 17 wickets in 6 ODIs as the Men in Blue clinched the one-day international series with a stunning margin of 5-1.
Dhoni, the glovesman, was at his verbal best during the limited-overs series against South Africa. There was no shortage of street smartness, shrewd advice, witticism from Dhoni while standing behind the stumps. On the other hand, captain Kohli was very precise with his plans.
“What we have achieved in South Africa has a lot to do with the way Kohli bhai and Dhoni bhai guide us in the middle. While you can all hear Dhoni bhai constantly guiding us on the stump microphone, it is Kohli bhai who actually plans it all. It is a complete work of two individuals who are brilliant when it comes to first planning and then implementing the plans,” Kuldeep said in an exclusive interview with CricketNext.
“Credit has been given to us (Kuldeep and Chahal) for taking India home in the limited-overs series, but we couldn’t have been half as effective had it not been for the two senior pros guiding us. You need a skipper who backs you and believes in your ability to shine on the big stage. You think we could have been so successful if Kohli bhai had not given us the freedom to attack? I don’t think so,” he added.
After scalping 5 for 79 and 8 for 42 while bowling in tandem in India’s 6-wicket and 9-wicket victory in the first two ODIs at Durban and Centurion, the duo of Kuldeep and Chahal unleashed yet another havoc on the hosts as they claimed 8 for 69 in India’s 124-run victory over the Protease during the third ODI at Newlands, Cape Town.
After a little blip in the fourth ODI that India lost by 5 wickets (DLS method) in Johannesburg, the spin twins made a stellar comeback in the fifth ODI at Port Elizabeth to secure a maiden bilateral ODI series win on South African soil. Kuldeep and Chahal claimed 6 wickets between them as India won the fifth ODI by 73 runs. They picked up 3 wickets in the sixth encounter at Centurion to finish the series with 33 wickets between them.
“My role is to attack and also abide by the directions given by the skipper. I don’t really give the wicket much importance. I am an attacking bowler and I believe that if I can do my job, the wickets will come. Chahal telling me in Durban that the wicket had sharp turn gave me further confidence,” Kuldeep said.
“In fact, I must admit that when I reached South Africa — during the third Test at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg — the mood in the camp was already upbeat. We had the upper-hand in the game and after coming so close in the first two games, it was for the first time that the result was also turning in our favour and that win set things up for the rest of the series.
“But yes, we did need to focus all over again and try and make inroads at the start of the ODIs. Keeping the winning momentum was very important for us as a team and that is what helped us because had we not won the first two ODIs, the Proteas would have come back strongly and the series could have ended in a much different manner,” he explained.
Kuldeep not finding a place in the Test team created a lot of buzz in Indian cricket fraternity. However, the chinaman bowler feels that there was no place for a third spinner in the ranks after R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on foreign soil.
“Yes, I would be lying if I say that I didn’t feel disappointed to miss the bus, but then, that is a part of every sportsperson’s journey. You also need to realise that the team already had two master-class spinners in Ashwin bhai and Jaddu (Jadeja) bhai. So, I went to South Africa with a clear mind and looking to make the most of the opportunities that I would get. To be fair, I didn’t think that we (Chahal and him) would get the kind of purchase that we did. I enjoyed bowling on those wickets and I think the numbers speak for themselves. I only looked at expressing myself in the middle,” Kuldeep remarked.
After the successful South Africa tour, the 23-year-old Kuldeep is confident of India’s good showing in the next overseas assignment in England under Virat Kohli.
“Kohli bhai leads by example. His aggression rubs off on all of us and that is why this team has the ‘never-say-die’ attitude. I am confident that we as a team will produce another good performance there. But before that, I am looking forward to bowling against Kohli bhai and Mahi bhai in the IPL,” Kuldeep concluded.