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T20 World Cup – Kuldeep Yadav – ‘Nothing changes, I’ve got four overs to bowl’

After spending the group stage waiting in the wings, Kuldeep Yadav continued his run as Super Eight specialist, taking 3 for 19 in India’s comprehensive victory over Bangladesh in Antigua.

Kuldeep has now taken five wickets across India’s two Super Eight matches, after picking up 2 for 32 against Afghanistan on Thursday in Barbados.

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India held Kuldeep back for the Caribbean leg of the tournament in the belief the pitches would suit his left-arm wristspin more than those in the USA. And, while he admitted he was keen to play in the group stages, he knew once he returned to the islands where he made both his white-ball debuts for India, during the 2017 West Indies tour, his experience would be called upon.

“I was helping out the team-mates and carrying the drinks [in the US]. That is more like playing,” joked Kuldeep. “I would have loved to bowl there. But it’s more like an Australian sort of wicket. But here I made my T20 [and] ODI debut back in 2017. I knew the conditions very well, just the length and trying to vary my pace. So it’s perfect for spinners to come here and bowl.”

While there was a sound reason to bring Kuldeep into the side on Caribbean surfaces, having a bowler play their first competitive match so late and at such a crucial stage of a T20 World Cup is unusual. But Kuldeep said he didn’t feel any added pressure playing for the first time in the tournament at the Super Eight stage.

“It’s very important to play every game, take every game as a normal game. Now obviously we playing at Super Eight, obviously we have a lot of pressure as well. We’re going to play Australia in a couple of days’ time. The wickets are good for spinners, as you have seen in the last few games as well. Nothing changes. I’ve got four overs to bowl and that was my plan. Just sticking with the length and varying my pace. For me it’s nice.”

Bowling in the middle phase, Kuldeep went wicketless in his first over but struck in each of his next three. He flummoxed Tanzid Hasan with a fizzing googly that jagged back in and cannoned into the front pad before foxing Towhid Hridoy with a straight one that struck the back pad. After Shakib Al Hasan slog-swept a looping delivery for six, Kuldeep tossed another one up as a tempter, but the slower pace and extra bounce drew a top edge and a third wicket.

Kuldeep bowled his four overs from the Sir Andy Roberts End, which gave assistance to left-handed batters hitting into the wind on the leg-side and help to right-handers outside their off stump. But while the stiff cross breeze posed challenges, he said it was important not to overthink its effect.

“It was difficult from this end as a spinner because my rhythm is like, not like running rhythm, it’s more like a one step and then aggressive. I didn’t think about the wind, just the length matters. And obviously reading the batter what they are expecting from me, just reading one step ahead, what they are thinking. So just keeping this in mind and changing the line and length, and obviously they were targeting the windy side, and just reacting to what they are doing.

“When the other team needs 10 runs or 12 runs per over and the batter’s going against you my plan is to just stick with the length, and obviously when they try to attack you, if you have a proper plan against them and you are bowling in probably the better length, you have maximum chances of getting the batter out. So that is my thinking, not thinking I have to get him out, just the length.”

Melinda Farrell is a journalist and broadcaster


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