While the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep most of the Indian cricketers at home, left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav said he has begun his preparations for the Australia tour later this year.
India is scheduled to play three T20Is against Australia in October before a four-match Test series during the Australian summer. India, who currently hold the Border Gavaskar trophy, will then play three ODIs against the hosts in the final leg of the tour.
“Sometimes taking a break helps refresh the mind. We’ve had three-four months off now, so when we start again, it will be a fresh start, like a new innings. I feel this is the time to push myself because a lot of people are not able to practice," Kuldeep told Deep Dasgupta on ESPNcricinfo’s Cricketbaazi.
“That can give me an edge. A break is very important. You learn from whatever happened in the last year about planning your bowling. You need to spend time and come up with a plan every time. I have already started preparing for the Australia tour (later this year), so that I go there and play a confident cricket," he added.
2019 was not a great year for Kuldeep as he struggled with form and he admitted to doubting his abilities.
“It was mentally very tough for me. When you are looked at as a wicket-taking bowler but you are not able to pick wickets, you start doubting your skills. I spoke to Bharat Arun (India’s bowling coach) who showed confidence in me which boosted my morale."
“I prepared really well before leaving for the World Cup 2019 because I wanted to overcome my failure in IPL that year. Even though I didn’t pick up many wickets, I think I bowled well at the World Cup. After that I have been in and out of the team.
“If you are playing regularly, your confidence is high. If not, you are always under pressure to perform in the chances you get and your mind stays cluttered. I probably was at fault with my skills as well," he added.
The 25-year-old also believes that he is an emotional person and over thinks about the game. He reacted emotionally after Moeen Ali smashed for 27 runs him in IPL 2019.
“I get angry when my heart and mind don’t think alike. Shane Warne once advised me to not think about my game too much because it is not possible to perform well in every game.
“In one of the games at the IPL 2019, my heart was telling me to bowl over the wicket but my mind was pushing me to bowl around the wicket. I listened to my heart and was punished. Finally, on the fifth ball I bowled around the wicket and dismissed the batsman. But the initial 20-25 runs cost my team the match," Kuldeep said.
Commenting on whether the lack of pace in his bowling had made it easier for batsmen to counter him, Kuldeep said, “The pitches in India are generally on the slower side, so you have to bowl slightly quicker. If you play overseas and do the same thing, like in Australia or South Africa, the ball releases better."
“I have started practicing for this as well. The best way to do this is to bowl on mud pitches, because the ball generally comes slower off the surface. If you bowl with the same pace on a turf wicket, it is bound to trouble the batsman."
“Today we play around five matches in three to four months against a particular opposition. If I continue bowling the same way, it will become easy for the batsman to play me. If I change something and create doubt in the mind of the batsman, I will continue to stay effective. I realised this after playing international cricket for couple of years. I need to make subtle changes and use the angles differently."
Talking about the toughest batsman to bowl, Kuldeep said it’s Steven Smith of Australia in Test cricket and former South Africa skipper AB de Villiers in ODIs.
“Smith plays me mostly off the back foot. He plays the ball very late as well, so it becomes challenging to bowl to him. In ODIs, AB de Villiers is a good player. He has a unique style. Now that he’s retired, it’s a good thing! But other than him, I haven’t found any other batsman who I am sacred will hit me for a lot of runs."