He is Virat Kohlis go-to-man in limited-overs cricket when the team needs a wicket. While the modern era has seen batsmen take spinners to the cleaners in the shorter formats of the game, left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav rarely fails to answer his skippers call. Interestingly, Kuldeep says he has learnt a lot about handling pressure situations from the skipper.
Speaking to IANS, the 25-year-old throws light on learning from Kohli, staying indoors in the battle against coronavirus, silencing the foodie in him and most importantly keeping fingers crossed that the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League takes place.
So how does he handle the role of a wicket-taker when batsmen are known to take on the spinners and runs are bound to be leaked? Kuldeep says that the confidence the skipper shows in him is vital and also that he takes a leaf or two out of Kohli’s book when it comes to handling pressure.
“If your captain believes in you, giving your best on the field becomes easy. From Virat, we learn a lot of things like how to manage difficult situations. He never fails to motivate young players. I remember when I was new in the team he backed me a lot. In fact, now also, he is always there for me. He always appreciates your skills and we have a great tuning together. The best quality of Virat is that he also understands the team and its player’s well which makes our job easy on field,” he pointed.
While a cricketer’s place is on the field, the pandemic has ensured that he has spent most of the last few months indoors. Has that been difficult as an athlete? The spinner says he has looked to spend quality time with his family apart from working on his fitness and controlling his love for food.
“Lockdown must be difficult for a lot of people, but I got a lot of time to rest, and my body recovered from the injuries. I spent a good amount of time with my family but at the same time it’s been a challenge maintaining peak fitness. It was difficult in the start, but slowly things fell in place.
“I made a proper schedule for myself and I am sticking to it. I was continuously in touch with the BCCI trainers, which made the whole process easier. I wasn’t depressed nor was the lockdown difficult for me. I am a foodie and the only issue I had was to follow a strict diet as the workout was not as intense as it used to be. Hence following a diet was of utmost importance…Sometimes I did rest, and cheat on my diet but I tried my best to stick to the routine,” he smiled.
Now that the rules are being relaxed and players will slowly start individual training before hitting the national team camp, what is his plan of action?
“For sure we will need time to get back to the routine. It’s like if you take a break for 4-5 months and then jump into it again it becomes complicated. It will be difficult for batsmen, spinners, fast bowlers ï¿½ basically for everyone. But at the same time if you are doing your regular drills at home, and if your focus is maintained then it will be easier for you to get back to your form quickly,” he pointed.
Asked about his take on the whole saliva debate, Kuldeep said that while it is a habit, the experts should be allowed to take the final call. And as for him, he cannot wait to get back on the field.
“Definitely, after the pandemic is over and you step on the field, there will be a little scare. There is a lot of debate going on right now in terms of using saliva on the ball or not to use it. Yes it’s going to be very difficult as since kids we are used to applying saliva on the ball to make it shine. Now playing with the new rules will be tricky for sure. As it’s a habit for us, it will require a lot of control and a lot of practice. Let us just leave it to the experts. As a cricketer I am less scared and more excited about going on the field and playing,” he said.
Finally, is he looking forward to the Indian Premier League? Considering that it could very well be the first live sporting action for Indian cricketers once normalcy returns.
“Of course I am very excited. I have heard that the IPL may happen this year as the T20 World Cup may get pushed. I am all set and very excited for IPL because I will get to play after a long break. IPL is a tough tournament and if it happens this year I will give my best. IPL will also give us confidence for the forthcoming Australia series. So yes, I am all excited and I am looking forward to it,” he signed off.