No question of replacing Ashwin, Jadeja: Kuldeep
It is beyond doubt that Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have been touted by the Indian team management as the spin-bowling mainstays in limited-overs cricket. Or else how would they explain the extended 'rest' given to seniors Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja that has lasted for 10 ODIs and one T20I now? The jargon of 'resting' certain members of the squad has given way to the understanding that wrist spin is the way to go for this India side, at least for now.
Kuldeep has made noise ever since his Test debut against Australia in Ranchi in March, his selection reported to be a bone of contention between captain Virat Kohli and former coach Anil Kumble. But since his debut, Kuldeep has justified all the noise and made some more by becoming the go-to bowler for Kohli in pressure situations.
The 22-year-old left-arm legspinner realizes the importance that he holds in the team's plans and how vital his bowling partnership with Chahal has been.
"Chahal and I share a good partnership. We've played together for five years so we understand each other very well. So it's easy for me to understand what his plans are as it is for him to understand what my plans are. And it becomes easy when we are on the field because we talk to each other and understand how the wicket is playing out. We have been bowling in partnerships, the effects of which are already being observed," Kuldeep said during the pre-match press conference ahead of the 2nd T20I against Australia in Guwahati.
Kuldeep picked up seven wickets from four matches in the recently-concluded ODI series and dismissed Aaron Finch and Moises Henriques in the first T20I in Ranchi. Despite his recent success, he doesn't think that 'replacing' seniors like Ashwin and Jadeja in the team is even comprehensible.
"As far as replacing the seniors is concerned, I never think about it. Ash bhai and Jaddu bhai have been phenomenal for India in Tests and ODIs. They have been playing for years now whereas we are very young and have only started playing cricket. So there's no question, really, of replacing them," Kuldeep said.
It is perhaps the rarity of left-arm wrist spinners in world cricket that makes it just that little bit harder for batsmen to pick is deliveries, and Kuldeep has got two Australians to thank for developing himself into a potent bowler. While Shane Warne has been his childhood idol, Kuldeep has spent a considerable amount of time with Brag Hogg at Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.
"Both of them (Warne and Hogg) have been very important to me as far as my career is concerned. I have idolized Shane Warne since childhood and if I become even half as good as he is, I'll consider my life to be successful," Kuldeep said of Warne.
"Even now I keep talking to him. His wristwork and the ability to deceive a batsman in the air was phenomenal and if I learn some of those skills, it would be great for him," he added.
Hogg has been playing cricket for 23 years, as Kuldeep mentions, and that is one year more than the number of springs Kuldeep has seen in his entire life.
"I was with Brad Hogg at KKR for two years and got to learn a lot. I keep talking to them regarding my bowling. When you are in the company of a senior player who has played years of cricket, it is quite obvious that even if you learn a part of what they have it would be hugely beneficial for you," Kuldeep said about his acquaintance with Hogg.
"Hogg's flippers and wrong-ones were very deceptive. He's 46 now and had been playing cricket for 23 years. So there's a lot to learn from him. Small tricks of the trade which he keeps telling me have been helpful for me," he added.