’There is no word to describe MS Dhoni’s influence on a young bowler like me’
‘There is no one better than him to judge you because he is watching from behind the wicket and he keeps telling me what I need to’
India spinner Kuldeep Yadav feels no one judges his bowling better than Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is set to feature in his 300th ODI on Thursday.
The left-arm leg-spinner has sat out the first three ODIs against Sri Lanka, but with the series wrapped up already, he is expected to make a return to the playing eleven as skipper Virat Kohli will look to experiment.
"There is no word to describe MS Dhoni’s influence on a young bowler like me," said Yadav on Tuesday.
"If you interact with him, like I have been doing for last six months, there is obviously so much to learn from him. I keep talking to him about my bowling. When I am playing for the team, then also I keep talking to him.
"There is no one better than him to judge you because he is watching from behind the wicket and he keeps telling me what I need to. I feel very proud that I am playing with him and very lucky that I could be playing in his 300th game," he said.
When asked about the change in coaching styles of Anil Kumble and Ravi Shastri, he added, “I think they both have treated me in the same manner. I don’t find any difference as such and I don’t think too much about this aspect.
"I focus more on how I can improve myself for the team. For this I used to speak with Anil sir and I speak with Ravi sir also for this same thing."
Yadav has come to be a prominent feature of the Indian set-up this year. It began with his Test debut in March against Australia at Dharamsala, and since then he has also gone on to make his ODI debut in West Indies.
He played all five ODIs there, but has to wait for his chance here in Sri Lanka as the team opted to play Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal.
"As spinners play more games, they keep on improving. So in the last six months I have learnt a lot from bowling in international matches, for example, how to overcome pressure especially when you have better batsmen over a period of time and so. You can only learn this by playing more matches.
"Wickets in West Indies were slower and tougher for batsmen. They didn’t have much spin but had more drift. Sri Lankan wickets are better for batting," said Yadav.
"I take it (the competition) as a positive because healthy competition is good for the team. When I get my chance, I will also try to give my best, as that is my aim," he said.
Talking about the change in mind set from Tests to ODIs, Yadav said, "There is a lot of change from red to white ball. The batsmen try to attack you more because they want to score more runs.
"In Tests you have to work harder to get wickets and in ODIs you have only ten overs to take any wickets. But at least the batsmen are taking more chances against you."
Yadav then explained why he would never stop attacking the batsman.
"My bowling style isn’t about restricting runs. If I try to do that, I will end up conceding even more runs. So I look to take wickets at every possibly opportunity. That way the team also benefits because if you do not take wickets then you are an ordinary bowler.
"Taking wickets should be a habit for bowlers. And my thought process is very simple in this regard," he added.
India are already headlong into their preparation for the 2019 ODI World Cup. In that light, Yadav is keen to improve his fitness and fielding, whilst still enjoying the backing of Kohli on the strength of his spin prowess alone.
"Virat bhai keeps telling me to work on my fitness more than other things, but he also tells me to work hard on my bowling. It is good that the skipper believes in me and believes in wrist spinners. It is good for the team as well,” said the Chinaman bowler.
"I think I have improved a lot. When I used to play for Under-19 Indian team, then I wasn’t too fit. Today I feel that I am much fitter,” he signed off.