India wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav has come a long way after making his international debut in 2017. In 65 ODIs, he has claimed 107 wickets at an impressive average of 28.34 while his T20I record reads – 41 scalps from 23 games at an economy rate of 7.15.
Kuldeep has also proved his worth in a brief Test career. In 7 Tests, he has picked up 26 wickets at an average of 23.84 with two five-wicket hauls.
The 26-year-old may have fallen out of favour in recent times but he recently gave the glimpse of his old self on the white-ball tour to Sri Lanka, taking four games in as many games.
Only India bowler to claim two hat-tricks in international cricket, Kuldeep Yadav plays for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL). He has represented KKR in 45 games so far, claiming 40 wickets with the best bowling figures of 4/20 to his name.
Kuldeep will now be seen in action in the second phase of IPL 2021, slated to be held in UAE from September 19 to October 15. KKR, occupying seventh place on the points table, will resume their campaign against RCB on September 20 in Abu Dhabi.
Ahead of the cash-rich tournament, the chinaman bowler interacted with Saurabh Malhotra, Content Head at Circle of Cricket, and opened up about his training, experience of playing under Eoin Morgan, among other things.
Here’s the excerpt of the interview:
Q. So now here we are, almost four months later in a different country for the second phase of IPL 2021. How has your training been despite the challenging weather in the UAE and the dreaded quarantine?
A: The second phase is resuming after four months and the training has been going fairly well. Everyone is coming really good together and I hope things will now fall in place this season. On the personal front, I am keeping well fitness wise and I believe everything is going really good.
Q. You have been with the KKR franchise since a very long time. Tell us how your experience has been with the franchise and some of your most cherished memories as a Knight Rider?
A: I joined the team when I was a kid, nobody knew me and the way KKR handled me, it was a really good experience. Throughout in eight years, I got to learn a lot from the senior players. It seems like a family, the bonding and understanding is really good. I always enjoy my time at KKR and want to continue my association with them going ahead in my career.
They support a lot whether it is Shah Rukh bhai, Juhi Mam, Jay bhai, Venky Sir. The team atmosphere is also very healthy, everyone backs each other. Irrespective of the result, the team atmosphere remains positive and they play a big role in the match. The mood in the dressing room is so chilled and I feel like we will play impressive cricket in the near future. The support has been good and it feels like a family to me after playing for many years and knowing each other really well. So, I enjoy a lot here.
There are so many good moments with KKR. When I joined the team for the first time and we became champions and then I got the chance to play in the Champions League. The performance of the team was impressive in 2018 and we reached the play-offs in 2019. So, there have been memorable moments throughout and my experience has also been good with everyone whether it is Brendon McCullum, Wasim Akram, Gauti bhai (Gautam Gambhir), Jacques Kallis, DK bhai (Dinesh Karthik). Each one of them has backed me and supported me.
Q. Coming back to IPL 2021, it wasn't an easy part one of the season for the group, does the team still believe about a possible turnaround and even a playoff spot in UAE?
A: Of course, the first phase didn’t go the way we had expected. Although we played good cricket, we ended up losing games by small margins. I believe we will do well in the second leg. The vibe within the team is really good, everyone is backing each other and I feel we could play exciting cricket. It’s not a big task. If we manage to win the first two games, things will become easy and beating any strong side will definitely boost our confidence. As a team, the experience has been very good and management, support staff, coaches, captain – everyone is coming really good together. So, I hope we will play good cricket in the times to come.
Q. Brendon McCullum as coach, Eoin Morgan as captain, you have one of the most respected leadership groups at KKR. How do they help you and other members of the team behind the scenes?
A: Captain and coach play a big role and the way Baz has handled the situation, it’s been very good. Although we lost matches in the first half, the mood in the camp was pleasant. As you know, captain Morgan is very cool and handles every situation calmly. So, there have been good vibes and will do certainly do well in the second leg.
The captain and coach plan well before the match and understand each other. They provide space to the youngsters, and at the same time give opportunities to the seniors to put forward their views. So, I believe both of them are playing a key role at KKR and they are doing great. The results might not have come in our favour, but their method is excellent and I feel we will perform well in the second leg.