Kuldeep Yadav did not have a great IPL 2019, where he picked up only four wickets from nine matches. He was even rotated out of the Indian T20I squad briefly, before he got his place back again. Kolkata Knight Riders, though, know the value of Kuldeep and have trusted him to be one of their main spinners for IPL 2020 as well, along with Sunil Narine.
Back for another IPL with plenty of learnings from the previous season, Kuldeep is ready for the challenge. In this interaction with Cricketnext, the left-arm wrist spinner opens up about the learnings from the previous year, his equation with different wicketkeepers, bowling to Andre Russell and more.
From batting friendly Eden Gardens to spin-friendly and bigger grounds in UAE - you must be excited about the tournament being shifted? Do you think it’s going to be a spinners’ IPL?
After playing in Eden Gardens, when you play elsewhere it feels like an advantage (for spinners). But at the same time, you will become very matured when you play in Eden Gardens. Definitely because of the heat, the slow nature of the pitches and the bigger size of grounds here, it will be a good tournament for spinners.
You did not have a great IPL 2019. Do you see IPL 2020 as a chance at redemption?
I always understand that it’s normal for cricketers to have bad patches. You can’t think that you will always do well. You are not bigger than cricket. You play the game but you can never become bigger than cricket. Sometimes you perform well, sometimes you don’t. This is a part of the game.
I don’t think 2019 was bad. Of course it was bad because I didn’t perform. If I had performed it would have been good. So good and bad will always be there. At the same time, I learnt a lot and gained a lot of experience from 2019. And from that experience I’ll look to do well in the future. I learnt a lot in the last IPL and will definitely this IPL will be good.
You have spoken a lot about how helpful MS Dhoni has been as a keeper. Tell us about your interactions with Dinesh Karthik in KKR and Rishabh Pant for India, how different each keeper is
I feel each player’s category is very different. Mahi bhai has a different aura, because he is very experienced. His life experience is very big, how much he has struggled and the number of years he has played… at the same time, the way he remains calm is his personality and advantage.
Rishabh Pant is young. He has just started, he will improve and do well with time. He is a very good player and keeps very well too. I’m sure you can’t compare although you’ll keep thinking who is the best when you have three keepers. But you can’t compare Mahi Bhai with anyone else because he is in a different league.
DK bhai is a very aggressive captain. He takes decisions quickly. Most important is he understands the plans and keeps talking. It’s not like he doesn’t talk; we talk a lot during training and match simulation and understand each other. He is an experienced player, he has been playing since Mahi bhai is playing. Every time I’ve played against Tamil Nadu, he has been the captain. He is one of the best and I rate him highly. He’s one of the best keepers, backs youngsters always.
Sometimes it happens that things don’t go well. Sometimes team doesn’t do well, at that time you can’t put all the blame on the captain. This is a team game and the entire team should take blame when you lose, and when the team wins the entire team should enjoy.
Batsmen or bowlers - who will find it easier to find their rhythm back after the long break?
I don’t know, but for me it’s very difficult. If I’m not bowling for 10 days I will be in a totally different zone. So for me it’s totally different. I don’t know about the batsmen but if I’m not bowling for 10 days I really feel like I’ve forgotten my skill and attitude towards the game. So it’s very important to keep working hard. I like to bowl more and more, and I’m pushing myself.
The experience of bowling to Andre Russell in the nets
To be very honest I don’t like to bowl to Andre Russell during the nets sessions because you tend to get scared when he goes for the big one, and sometimes he misses out and it comes straight to you. Difficult to adjust yourself but yeah, if you are bowling to him you get a lot of experience to bowl in death overs or big hitting batsmen. It’s a good experience for me and he’s definitely one of the best T20 players and we’re lucky to have him.