India spinner Kuldeep Yadav said he did not think his white-ball career was over after a poor performance against England in a One-Day International earlier this year, but admitted self-doubts did begin to creep in when he was overlooked for long periods.
Kuldeep, an automatic choice for the Indian team till the 2019 World Cup, has been overlooked by the national team in recent months. Some felt that his 0 for 84 against England in Pune earlier this year had spelt doom for him.
Addressing the media after India’s seven-wicket win in the first ODI against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Sunday, he said, “I never felt that my white-ball career was finished after that England game.”
“There are times that you will go for runs. I have had four and five-wicket hauls and it would be better if people start talking about those achievements too,” Kuldeep said.
“One or two bad games doesn’t finish one’s career. I believe all who have played the game and have knowledge of the game are aware about that fact. The track in Pune (during England series) was very good for batting and spinners didn’t have much help. It can happen that wicket doesn’t suit you,” Kuldeep, who has 107 wickets from 64 ODIs, said.
But sport can be lonely, especially during COVID times and in-bubbles, where players may spend long periods in a closed environment without getting chances.
‘New types of doubt’
Kuldeep has been in and around the squad without much game time and he admitted that it did have its ill effects.
“It’s a difficult life in [the] bubble and more so when you are not playing as self-doubts creep in. A lot of people want to help you, speak to you but when you speak to too many people, you create new types of doubts,” Kuldeep said.
Kuldeep said one had to be patient in a team sport as chances might not readily come one’s way. He was under pressure before the first ODI against Sri Lanka but coach Rahul Dravid’s words of wisdom helped him soothe his nerves.
“Pressure and nervousness will always be there when you play after a long time and I was playing after a long time. It happens as you are keen to do well. Initially, Rahul sir backed me a lot, motivated me, he told me a lot of things but most importantly that I needed to enjoy my game…I am happy that it worked..”
He said one of the key changes he brought after a poor run of form for India and Kolkata Knight Riders, his IPL club, was a variation in the pace of his deliveries. “I have brought about some changes because, during the first innings, it was slow and dry, with turn on offer. I was varying the pace as per batsman I was bowling to,” he said, referring to Sri Lanka’s innings.
“There were times when I tried to flight the ball and there were times when I increased the pace of my deliveries. My idea was to ensure that batsmen don’t settle down to one particular pace.”
It was also a long time since Kuldeep and Chahal got to play together in an international game. “We share a good comfort level so I was happy that we played together after a long time. We back each other and whenever need be, we tell each other what needs to be done. There is a lot of bonding between us and that helps us in performing. The best part is that our performance helped in the team’s victory,” Kuldeep signed off.