'Aapse bada bowler nahi hai India main' - Kuldeep's childhood coach recalls Pant's pep talk for Indian wristspinner
Kuldeep Yadav continued his great revival with another impactful performance for India in the ongoing five-match T20I series against the West Indies in Florida this Saturday (August 12). The Indian left-arm wristspinner picked up the decisive wickets of middle-order mavericks Nicholas Pooran and Rovman Powell to end with figures of 2/26 on a flat pitch.
Kuldeep missed out on a 'Player of the Match' award but played perhaps the most critical role in India's nine-wicket triumph, reducing the powerpacked Caribbean batting line-up to 178/8 when they could easily have belted a score in excess of 200.
The young gun has been the stand-out performer for India over the course of the limited-overs leg of the current trip. He took seven wickets in the three-match ODI series at just 8.71 runs apiece and is reigning at the top of the bowling chart for the T20Is after six scalps at an economy rate of 6.16.
The T20I series in particular has perfectly laid bare the improvements and upgrades that Kuldeep Yadav has made to his bowling over the past year. After losing his sheen in a tough career phase at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the wristspinner went to the drawing board and corrected his mistakes.
Kuldeep Yadav's childhood coach reveals amusing Rishabh Pant tale
One of the obvious points of course correction has been aligning his action straighter and therefore extracting the maximum possible speed out of his body. Kuldeep has put in excellent fitness work and is no longer looping the ball in the arc to the rampaging batters, instead dipping it onto them and making it tough for them to go back on shorter lengths to play him out with ease.
These changes came about following an extensive period out of the playing XI for India and a timely shift from Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL to Delhi Capitals (DC) early last year. Kuldeep's childhood coach Kapil Pandey believes that was a game-changing moment for his ward as head coach Ricky Ponting and skipper Rishabh Pant gave the wristspinner the confidence and backing he desperately needed.
"Ricky Ponting told him ‘I am going to play you all the matches. There is a reason Warnie (Shane Warne) likes you and I can see why. You are going to be our matchwinner’," Kapil told the Indian Express.
The coach also shared an amusing anecdote about Pant, who is understood to have told Kuldeep there is no bigger bowling force than him in the country at his best and boosted his confidence and zeal to a remarkable degree.
"Rishabh told him ‘aapko acha karna hoga bhaiya, aapse bada bowler nahi hai India mein (you have to do well, there is no better bowler than you in India)’," Kapil said. "Shane Watson worked on his batting. He found a home at Delhi and you can see the performances."
Kuldeep took a career-transforming 21 scalps and showed important technical refinements to his bowling throughout IPL 2022. He has also managed to carry the shift in momentum forward to his India career since the last year's ODI series against South Africa. From then on, not only has Kuldeep cemented his spot in 50-overs cricket as the side's preferred wristspinner before the World Cup but also stood resurgent in the shortest format.