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How Kuldeep became an automatic pick in India’s World Cup squad

But then any cricketer needs the help of an expert hand, someone who has seen it and done it all, to expand his craft. For Kuldeep, that person was Sunil Joshi.

How Kuldeep became an automatic pick in India’s World Cup squad
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Kuldeep Yadav

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COLOMBO: Kuldeep Yadav was facing an uncertain future by the end of 2021. He had gone down in India’s pecking order and Kolkata Knight Riders benched him for the whole of that IPL season.

But within the last year or so Kuldeep has managed to change his status to become one of the automatic picks in India’s World Cup-bound 15 which was announced on Tuesday.

Kuldeep has also nosed ahead of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and off-spinners R Ashwin and Washington Sundar in the India scheme of things. His claim has the backing of numbers as well. So far this year, the left-arm wrist spinner has taken 23 wickets from 13 ODIs – the highest by an Indian bowler.

So, how did he bring in that metamorphosis?

“Determination,” said Kuldeep’s childhood coach Kapil Pandey.

“He was heart-broken. Forget about playing for India, he was not even getting the game-time with KKR. It is important for a bowler to keep working on his skills to improve his craft. “But he was not ready to give up and kept training with me for a long time at the nets. We worked on many things like delivery speed etc that could help his bowling,” said Pandey.

But then any cricketer needs the help of an expert hand, someone who has seen it and done it all, to expand his craft. For Kuldeep, that person was Sunil Joshi.

The former India left-arm spinner took Kuldeep under his wings and imparted some valuable lessons at the NCA.

“In fact, I was in the selection panel when Kuldeep went down the line. It was not a pleasant sight to see a talented bowler going down. So, we met at the NCA and prepared a path ahead,” Joshi said.

Joshi said Kuldeep, at that time, was a bit low on confidence and needed to tweak his bowling as well.

Days of hard work followed at the NCA nets.

“We were mainly focusing on technical aspects like reducing his strides, increasing his arm speed so that he can bowl a bit quicker through the air. His action and approach (to the bowling crease) needed to be rectified,” said Joshi.

During the time when he was in turmoil, Kuldeep had lost his accuracy and zip off the pitch that made him look pedestrian, and he leaked plenty of runs too. Joshi suggested a few changes, and Kuldeep diligently worked on it. “He was not having focus then. But now, if you observe, he has lined up the batters well – his bowling arm is right in front of the batter, and even his strides are directed at the batter,” said Joshi.

A change of IPL franchise too worked wonders well for Kuldeep in this period – from KKR to Delhi Capitals.

“Kuldeep was telling me that he received plenty of backing at DC from (head coach) Ricky Ponting and assured him of good enough game-time.

“It is important for a bowler to have the support of captain and coach, and that’s why I think he excelled under MS Dhoni,” said Pandey.

DTNEXT Bureau
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