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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Kuldeep's touching act for Ashwin's 100th Test

Kuldeep's touching act for Ashwin's 100th Test

Source: PTI
March 07, 2024 20:16 IST
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If you play regularly, you get more confident about your bowling: Kuldeep Yadav

Kuldeep Yadav

IMAGE: Kuldeep Yadav changed his fitness routine, increased his pace and straightened his run-up. Photograph: BCCI

A regular place in the playing eleven during the ongoing series has done wonders to Kuldeep Yadav's confidence and the left-arm wrist spinner believes that he has got sharper with better game awareness due to consistent opportunities.

Having made his debut at this very venue in 2017, Kuldeep in past seven years have only made 12 Test appearances, with four of them on trot in the current series against England. On the opening day of the fifth Test against England, Kuldeep set the ball rolling with five top-order wickets.

 

"If you play regularly, you get more confident about your bowling. Game awareness also comes with it. It is very important to keep playing regularly as it makes your bowling sharp," said the 29-year-old, who now has 17 wickets in the series with hopefully one more innings to increase his tally.

Chances In Tests were sporadic in past few years, then there was dip in form and also a knee surgery for the talented spinner, who made technical adjustments to get his mojo back.

"In the beginning, it was very challenging. I had changed my action, it took six to eight months to find that rhythm. Now, things are all set and I am enjoying it. In Ranchi, I tried something with my run-up (faster approach to the crease as it was a slow surface), and I practise that regularly."

Kuldeep bowled a highly productive 15-over spell on either side of the lunch break on day one, something he says he has been able to do of late purely because of his improved fitness.

Following a knee surgery in September 2021, Kuldeep changed his fitness routine, increased his pace and straightened his run-up.

After a five-wicket haul that helped India bowl out England for 218 on a flat track, Kuldeep said it is only because his targeted fitness regimen that he has been able to make those changes and bowl long spells.

"Bowling is all about fitness. I have worked a lot on my fitness in the last 18 months. I have been able to make certain changes in my bowling because of improved fitness," Kuldeep said at the day-end media conference.

"I am doing specific things on my fitness which is allowing me to bowl long spells. At Rajkot (12 overs in first innings) and Ranchi (14 overs in second innings) also, I bowled log spells. I have gotten used to it."

Kuldeep has been getting more bite from flat surfaces compared to the other spinners and that was also evident on Thursday when he got the ball to drift and turn back sharply to castle Zak Crawley. The ball turned from imaginary fifth off-stump and ended up shattering the England opener's leg stump.

"I was using the drift well on both sides. I am very happy that we were able to get them out for 218 as it is a good wicket. As a spinner, you focus on the length and try to hit good length.

"At times, you change plans as per conditions. If you are getting drift, then you have to think about the lines as well. The more you play, the easier it becomes to control.

"Speed also matters. If you bowl at a certain speed and change your pace, it gets difficult for the batters," said the cricketer from Kanpur.

Have become a lot more mature now

Kuldeep Yadav

IMAGE: Kuldeep Yadav and R Ashwin shared an emotional moment after England got all out shortly after tes. Photograph: BCCI

Dharamsala is a special venue for Kuldeep as he made his Test debut here back in 2017. Following a successful debut, Kuldeep's career did not follow an upward trajectory though now he seems to have found the best version of himself.

"It was an interesting phase. It has been seven years since (debut). I have become a lot more mature about my bowling. I understand my game a lot better now. I know how to read the wicket."
On his stellar effort on day one, he said: "The wicket is good. It is unlikely to break considering the cold weather. It was cold in the first hour. The ball was gripping and was just trying to put revs on the ball."

Ash bhai told me I have 35 balls, and asked me to keep this one

Kuldeep and Ashwin shared an emotional moment after England got all out shortly after tea.

Considering Ashwin is playing his 100th Test, Kuldeep wanted him to keep the ball and his more experienced wanted the other way round. The premier off-spinner cleaned up with the tail with a four wicket haul.

On that exchange, he said: "Ash bhai told me I have 35 balls, and asked me to keep this one."

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