“I feel I can be Virat Kohli’s lucky charm” – Siddharth Kaul outlines World Cup ambition [Exclusive]

Can Siddharth Kaul make it to the T20 World Cup squad?
Can Siddharth Kaul make it to the T20 World Cup squad?
Wasiq Agha

There is a sense of tranquillity when one talks to Siddharth Kaul. A supremely spiritual soul, one get the sense of a man thoroughly comfortable in his skills and confident in his abilities.

He last played international cricket in February 2019. But almost two years later, Siddharth Kaul is steadfast with his ambition. He wants to win India the T20 World Cup, just like he did when he was 17, bowling the crucial final over that won India the U-19 World Cup in Malaysia.

In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Siddharth Kaul talked about how he feels he could be a lucky charm for Virat Kohli, the impact fatherhood has had on him, why he could come out all guns blazing the next time he comes out to bat, and more.

Siddharth Kaul enjoying the joys of fatherhood

The 31-year-old is all smiles when asked how fatherhood has changed him. Siddharth Kaul welcomed a baby boy with his wife, Harsimran Kaur, on February 17, 2021. The cricketer is thankful to God, his parents, in-laws and everyone who helped him in this journey. Family is a big part of who Siddharth Kaul is, and the 31-year-old considers them to be his lucky charm.

“When I got married, my wife came, and she acted as a lucky charm. Now my baby has come, and he is again a lucky charm. I hope everyone experiences this happiness all over the world. I am sure the baby will help me learn a lot of things as well. Right now, I am not able to spend that much time with him. But I try to give him as much quality time as possible. I play with him, and also learnt how to change diapers! I am slowly learning new things with him,” Siddharth Kaul said.

Becoming a father certainly comes with a lot of responsibility, but Siddharth Kaul doesn't feel any added pressure to perform now that he is a dad. He said in this regard:

“I don’t feel there is a need to prove anything. But yes, I do feel more blessed and supported in my life. I feel like there is someone keen to watch his father, his blood on the big screen and in the limelight. I talk to him before going to play, and it helps me relieve the extra pressure. Whether you perform or not, how he sees you remains the same, and I am really enjoying that. Earlier, there were times when my family used to tell me how I didn’t bowl well on the days I didn’t do well on. But with your kid, he doesn’t need anything from you."

I want to get into the Sri Lanka squad: Siddharth Kaul

Coming to cricketing matters, Siddharth Kaul has played three ODIs and as many T20Is for India. Strong IPL performances in 2017 and 2018 acted as a launchpad for his international career, but the fast bowler has not got a consistent run in the side.

An ODI here..a T20I there..nothing has come easy for Siddharth Kaul. That is evidenced by how Kaul has played consecutive international games just once across his short career. Asked whether he feels hard done by, Siddharth Kaul is more focused on the future, ready to give his all in his quest of a comeback.

“I wasn’t in the Indian team because of anyone’s backing. I have been there because of my performances, and I am proud of that. I will keep on banging the door with my performances till it doesn’t break. If it doesn’t break, it means I was destined to play only this much. But till the time I can, I will give it my all. Getting a chance or not depends on the Almighty. Some people get many chances, while some don’t get as many despite performing consistently. I am waiting for the opportunity, and (it it comes) I will grab it with both hands and give my 110%,” said Siddharth Kaul.

A firm believer in giving his all and leaving the rest to Providence, Siddharth Kaul points out how everyone around him trusts his ability to deliver on the big stage. He shared an insightful anecdote featuring Harbhajan Singh, crediting the legendary off-spinner for imparting advice that has stuck with him to date. Kaul said:

“My parents, coaches and every big player who has been associated with me have told me, When you give your 110% on the ground, you are something else. Keep on doing that’. Harbhajan Singh told me this during 2011-12. He was making a comeback into the Indian team, so he had to come to play domestic cricket and captained Punjab. That’s the advice I have been following since then. My father is my coach and my brother, who has kept wickets in so many matches, has told me similar things. Ashish Nehra is my mentor. and I learn a lot of skills from him. When these players see you and play with you, their assessment can never be wrong."

India will travel to Sri Lanka for an ODI and T20I series in July. With most first-team players away in England, the squad will consist of specialist white-ball players who usually wouldn’t have got a look in. Siddharth Kaul harbours hopes of a call-up, thanks to his stellar record in domestic cricket for Punjab over the past few years.

“Definitely, I want to get into the Sri Lanka squad. Because I am preparing myself, and I am performing in domestic cricket. India A I haven’t played since 2019; they did not select me after that. But I have performed in the domestic circuit. Even in four-day cricket, I was the highest wicket-taker for Punjab,” said Siddharth Kaul.

Can be Virat Kohli’s lucky charm, feels Siddharth Kaul

Siddharth Kaul has played with Virat Kohli since their U-19 days
Siddharth Kaul has played with Virat Kohli since their U-19 days

Siddharth Kaul tasted success at a young age, lifting the U-19 World Cup under Virat Kohli’s tutelage in 2008.

With 19 to defend off the last over, a young Virat Kohli handed the ball to an even younger Siddharth Kaul. The skiddy pacer duly obliged, conceding just six runs and picking up two wickets as India beat South Africa. More than 13 years after that memorable night, Siddharth Kaul feels he can do the job for Virat Kohli in a World Cup once again.

“I am happy with the run I had in the Indian team. But my dream is to help India win a World Cup in the coming years. If I stay, and the way I am building my game continues, then I definitely want to win India the World Cup. It is my dream. Just like how I helped India win the U-19 World Cup, I want to help India win the main World Cup too. With Virat Kohli as captain, I feel I can be his lucky charm,” Siddharth Kaul said.

With a plethora of options, India’s pace bowling battery seems pretty settled for the World Cup. From death over specialists to bowlers who can rattle the opposition top order in the powerplay, India have it all. Siddharth Kaul may need to do something different to catch the eye of the selectors, but the bowler himself doesn’t think so, saying:

“I will continue to perform with all my might. God willing, I will be part of the World Cup team. I don’t want to change anything or do anything differently. Nothing happens by doing that because if you lose the ability you previously had, what’s the point of it? It would be better to enhance and improve my existing ability so much that no one can point a finger at me."

“I am working on my batting” – Siddharth Kaul

One of the ways Siddharth Kaul can boost his chances is by improving his showing with the bat. The Indian white-ball team lacks fast bowlers who can score some crucial runs down the order, with only Shardul Thakur fitting that mould currently.

Siddharth Kaul hasn’t gotten many chances to showcase his abilities with the bat, either for India or for SRH. But he feels he could make a difference, confidently claiming that fans could see him smack a few sixes the next time he goes out to bat in the IPL.

“Yes, I am working on my batting. If my team has to chase 30 or 15 runs, I don’t want them to think that we have already lost the match. They should have the confidence that I can score those runs too. It's not like I don’t know how to bat. I have a few half-centuries in domestic cricket. Batting is something I love and my father, who is my coach, helps me improve it. The time that I have with me now, I will use it to work on my batting. If I get to bat in the IPL, you will get to see that Siddharth Kaul as a batter can hit sixes,” Kaul concluded.

It remains to be seen if that would happen when Siddharth Kaul gets an opportunity to do so. But for now, the 31-year-old wishes to continue putting in the hard yards as he awaits an opportunity to play for the national team again.

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Edited by Bhargav
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