Mature and forthright, Kuldeep on learning tips from his idol and bowling without fear against Steve Smith
Young chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, who on Saturday made a memorable debut with a four-wicket haul against Australia, revealed that legendary Shane Warne taught him to bowl the flipper which he used to get his maiden Test wicket of David Warner.
At the start of the Test series in Pune, chief coach Anil Kumble took Kuldeep to ask Warne for a session and it paid dividends.
Asked about the kind of tips he got from Warne, the 22-year-old Kuldeep's reply brought the house down.
"Did you see the first wicket (that of Warner)? That was not a chinaman. It was a flipper which I learnt from Shane Warne. So learning from Warne and then getting out his countryman is a nice feeling," Kuldeep replied cheekily as everyone had a hearty laugh.
For Kuldeep, it was a dream come true to meet Warne and talk about the art of spin bowling.
"My idol is Shane Warne and I have followed him since my childhood. I only watch his videos and it was a dream-come-true when I met him. I could not believe I was speaking to my idol and sharing my thoughts on bowling and what all I should be doing. I did exactly what he (Warne) told me to do. He has promised that he will have another session with me in the near future," the youngster said.
Kuldeep was brilliant on the field on his debut but equally impressive was his spunky answers after the day's play.
Questioned about how difficult it was to bowl to centurion Steve Smith, Kuldeep answered with conviction: "I bowled to Smith for the first time and I did not have any difficulty as he was not playing any strokes against me. May be he did not want to take any chance against me and was depending on singles. It might be that wickets were falling at the other end, he was being cautious. I was never nervous against Smith.”
And then, Kuldeep said something that indicated maturity beyond his years.
"From childhood I have been told that spinner is someone who would take wickets even if he gets hit (Spinner woh hain jo maar bhi khaaye aur wickets bhi leta rahein). My theory remains the same," he said.
Kuldeep is satisfied that his execution against Glenn Maxwell and Peter Handscomb went as planned.
"All four are precious scalps and the first one (Warner) is very special. The next two (Handscomb and Maxwell) were satisfying as you got them exactly how you had visualized their dismissals."
Talking about his craft, Kuldeep said left-arm wrist spin came naturally to him.
"I was not even aware that this is called Chinaman bowling. I was initially not happy but then focused on getting better at it.
"Today, I was backing my skills and the variations I have."
Matthew Wade, who made a fighting half-century for Australia, was impressed with Kuldeep's bag of tricks.
"He bowled a lot of different deliveries," the stumper-batsman said.
"He bowled a lot of leg-spinners with scrambled seam, his wrong'un with the scramble seam as well. It took a few balls to get used to it," Wade added.
His craft was in full display as he outfoxed Glenn Maxwell with a googly after being hit for a four two balls previously.
The Australians were on ascendancy at the start of this Test but things changed after lunch. Kuldeep said the idea was to restrict runs as wickets would then come automatically.
"We planned about the next session during lunch time. The plan was to not give them more than 70 to 80 runs. Not much about number of wickets we intended to take. Obviously, if you are giving away 80 runs, you are bound to get wickets. We followed plans as per team management's demands."
Kuldeep has been in national reckoning for some time but had to wait for his elusive cap.
Kuldeep was told about his much-awaited Test debut early in the morning and the spinner showed no nerves -- though looked emotional after getting his first test wicket -- in a brilliant display of wrist-spin bowling.
There was a point in time when he was trying to cheer up his coach Kapil Pandey who was disappointed that his ward did not get his share of chances.
"My personal coach always told me that you will get lot of wickets when you play, so he was a bit upset that I was not being picked. I assured him that I will be getting my chance for sure because I had confidence after I bowled at the nets. Senior players like Virat bhai and coach Anil sir motivated me and told me that my chance would come," Kuldeep said.