India’s wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have literally bamboozled the South African batsmen during the recently concluded six-match ODI series. The spin twins scalped 33 wickets between them as the Men in Blue clinched the series with a stunning margin of 5-1.
While Kuldeep finished the series with 17 wickets to his name, Chahal claimed 16 wickets to script a maiden bilateral ODI series victory for India on South African soil.
In an exclusive interview with Sportstar on Thursday (March 8), Kuldeep opened up about his rapport with the fellow leggie and his plans for the season.
“I have played a lot of cricket with Chahal. In limited-overs cricket, it is important to bowl in partnerships. The middle overs are crucial. Our plan has always been to plot breakthroughs. The best part is that we back each other. There is no pressure or any sense of competition,” Kuldeep told Sportstar.
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, Kuldeep and Chahal unleashed another havoc on the hosts in the third ODI at Newlands. The duo claimed 8 for 69 in India’s 124-run victory over the Protease in Cape Town.
After a little blip in the fourth ODI that India lost by 5 wickets (DLS method) in Johannesburg, Kuldeep and Chahal made a stellar comeback in the fifth ODI at Port Elizabeth to secure a maiden bilateral ODI series win on South African soil. They shared 6 wickets between them as India won the fifth ODI by 73 runs. The spin twins picked up 3 wickets in the sixth and final match at SuperSport Park, Centurion.
“We keep talking all the time. We talk about field placements, how to read a particular batsman's mind and place a fielder for him at a suitable position. These conversations happen during matches as well as at the nets. The more we bowl in partnership, the more it gets easy,” he added.
Talking about his individual performance in South Africa trip, the 23-year-old Kuldeep said: “I didn’t try anything new. I stuck to basics and bowled my normal deliveries. As an individual, it was a great experience to perform in South Africa. As a team, it was even better. It is a good feeling if you perform and the team wins.”
During the recently held IPL auction, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) brought the Right to Match (RTM) card to secure the services of Kuldeep after Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) bid for him at INR 5.80 crores.
“They are now like a family. I have spent four years with them. It is a good feeling to stay connected to a team. Gauti bhai (former skipper Gautam Gambhir) supported me a lot. It feels good that I will continue with KKR,” Kuldeep asserted.
When asked about playing under the leadership of Dinesh Karthik at KKR, the left-arm spinner said that he shares a very healthy camaraderie with DK.
“DK bhai and I have known each other for a long time. We have a good understanding. I am sure he will lead the team well and get us to a good position. He is a good man,” he said.
On being asked about India’s next big overseas assignment in England later this year, Kuldeep said he is not thinking that far ahead and for now his total focus is on the forthcoming IPL season, scheduled to start on April 7.
“I never think that much. The England tour will be challenging but I don’t want to take that pressure now. I will think about it after the IPL,” Kuldeep Yadav concluded.