Kuldeep Yadav: Maiden Test five-wicket haul feels special

Kuldeep Yadav recorded figures of five for 57 in the West Indies second innings, hastening India's march to a win.

Kuldeep Yadav leads India off the field after it shot West Indies out for 196 in the second innings to complete the win.   -  AFP

A five-wicket haul in a Test match is special for any cricketer, and Kuldeep Yadav did not hide his excitement as he spoke about the feat against the West Indies.

After an average outing in the first innings, Kuldeep picked five in the second innings — becoming the first Indian chinaman bowler to claim a five-wicket haul in Test. The 23-year old also became the second Asian cricketer to achieve the feat after Sri Lanka’s Lakshan Sandakan did it against India last year.

And Kuldeep was on cloud nine. “It is a good feeling because if you take five wickets in Test cricket. It is important for any cricketer. This is one (format) which everyone wants to feature in,” Kuldeep said, before adding: “Red-ball cricket is very close to my (heart) and I want to play red-ball cricket for long. That’s the whole focus.”

After achieving success in limited-overs cricket in the Ireland and England tours, Kuldeep was dropped from the Indian Test squad midway through the five-match series. “In England, the conditions were different, maybe, I could have bowled well there, but it did not happen that way. Then after coming here, I played two matches with India A, it was a good comeback. Here also, initially it took some time. In the second innings, it fell in place. Comeback is important for any cricketer,” the chinaman said.

Read: Kuldeep leads dominant India to its biggest Test win

But then, what could he have done in England?

“In England I was thinking the same thing, when I got the game in the second Test, I was bowling in a good length but I that time I was not used to the Dukes ball. That ball is too hard compared to the SG ball, you need probably 10-15 days to get used to the conditions and the ball as well,” he said.

“When I came back from England, I played with the SG ball, it probably took me (about) two innings to gain the confidence and in the second (four-day Test) against Australia A, I got five wickets, and everything changed from there (on). Here as well, in the first innings I started normally, and when I got (back) the confidence in the second innings I (thought) I was fine now,” he added.

Coming back to red-ball cricket is very difficult and also challenging. And Kuldeep was honest about it. “For a wrist spinner, it is challenging because it takes time to get used to it. White ball is a bit hard and its easier to grip. Over the overs, it gets softer, so it takes time to adjust. It was difficult, but after coming back, I played some matches and got used to the conditions. After Asia Cup, it took me three-four days to get used to it, so it came effective in the second innings,” the spinner said.

After returning from England, Kuldeep went to his coach, Kapil Pandey, and bowled a lot with the red ball for ‘three-four days’. “It was difficult for me since playing with the white ball, you tend to lose the rhythm (for red-ball cricket). I was with my Sir for four-five days, concentrated a lot on bowling around the wicket as well as over the wicket, on my release, also on the pace since in one-day cricket your pace increases,” he said.

But when you play Test cricket you have to ‘air’ the ball hoping that the batsman would take his chance. “I worked on all that, and in the first game against Australia the ball was being driven. But the confidence grew, with long spells, it all became normal,” Kuldeep pointed out.

An elated Kuldeep Yadav after outfoxing Sunil Ambris with a googly and having him stumped.   -  AFP

 

While he grabbed five wickets in the second innings, Kuldeep could bag only one wicket in the first innings. Was there any difference between the two innings?

“In the first innings, I had not thought that they would attack so much. I started off normally in my spell, I realised that they were playing their shots every time I gave it a flight, runs were leaking. So, when I came back for the second innings, I thought of putting a lid on the scoring rate, and as a result, wickets would come.”

So, that was the plan. “I had to guard against that extra flight because these West Indian batsmen have the power game, they can score freely. So, I kept it in mind, used the variations and plugged the scoring rate,” Kuldeep said.

Was there any technical difference between both the innings?

“When I started my first spell in the morning, I was thinking of going for wickets, they were going for runs too, so I thought they would give a chance in the process. But when I came back for the second spell, I only focused on the areas I wanted to land the ball, wasn't planning on giving it too much flight. I focused on accuracy rather than experiment too much,” he said.

Even though his feat came against a weak West Indies side, Kuldeep did not think about such things. “It doesn’t matter. If you take a five-wicket haul in Test cricket it is obviously very special for any bowler. I have played only four Tests, and for me it is very special to take five wickets against any side. West Indies is a good side, they were attacking and when someone is doing that you tend to bowl short and fuller, so the five-wicket haul is very special,” he said.

In England, it took him time to get used to the Dukes ball, but Kuldeep could be back in old form with the SG ball. “You cannot compare the two. If you practice with the Dukes ball for a month, that ball will become the ‘better’ ball for you. SG is also like that, since we have played with that ball from childhood, so we are familiar with it. Domestic cricket is also played with the SG ball. If Dukes ball is used in India then you will get familiar with that,” he said.

“For me, it does not matter which ball I am bowling with, but if you are transitioning from white ball to red ball then you will need one week or probably a couple of games to get used to the ball. This is the only difference, according to me, otherwise the SG ball does get softer, which creates some problems. The Dukes ball is hard, it is better if you are a spinner and is used to it.”

That’s Kuldeep for you — honest and to the point!