If any modern-day spinner has made rapid strides in India jersey, it has to be Kuldeep Yadav.The 26-year-old from Kanpur made the world took notice as he bowled in the Under-19 World Cup back in 2014. Four years later in South Africa, he went onto form a memorable partnership with fellow young spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. The duo accounted for more than half of Protea batsmen in the six-match ODI series; suddenly India were having trouble with added bench strength. Who would the captain play? Ravindra Jadeja? Ravi Ashwin? Or Kuldeep Yadav?
But the times have changed and how. Fast forward to March 2021 and Kuldeep looks a pale shadow of his former self. Not only his body language looks negative on the field, his words too betray optimism.
“Sometimes I felt, ‘what is going on?’. It was difficult times. Sometimes, the mind says, ‘ab shayad woh Kuldeep nahi rahe.’ There were days when you feel serving drinks and being on the bench is for the best – yaar yeh to best seat hai apne liye – and then but there are days you don’t want to be in that place," Kuldeep told Indian Express after another lackluster IPL in May.
Former cricketer and now TV commentator Mohammed Kaif has seen Kuldeep grow. He was his captain when this young boy from Kanpur made his Ranji debut. Kaif said players like Kuldeep are ‘special talent.’
“You are not going to see players like him everyday, he has a unique talent. If you want such players to perform for you, then you need the senior players and captain to back them. So it’s your (team management) responsibility to manage these kind of players well, and the player must also be mindful of their body language when backed by the think tank," he said in a virtual interaction with journalists on behalf of Sony Sports Network.
Kaif, who represented India in 125 ODIs, said that new coach Rahul Dravid must take Kuldeep under his wing.
“Sometime I get disappointed when I see Kuldeep not getting managed properly. Because as a Chinaman…he has a special quality, not everyone can bowl Chinaman. It’s a gift, I think Rahul Dravid will look after him in Sri Lanka," he added.
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