Kuldeep Yadav, a left-arm wristspinner, attributes his recent success in white-ball cricket to speeding up his deliveries and reducing the weight on his right leg while doing so.
His improvement over the past few years, particularly in ODIs, has been outstanding, and in 2023 he has stepped it up a notch. In 17 innings this year, Kuldeep has taken 35 wickets for an average of 16.31 and a 4.68 economy. In 2023, no other Indian bowler has more wickets, while Sandeep Lamicchane of Nepal holds the overall lead with 43 kills.
In the ODI World Cup opener between India and Australia, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell were both bowled out by Kuldeep. “Everyone told me my deliveries required pace but no one told me how to do it,” Kuldeep remarked after the match. The speed at which the ball turns is a crucial component of a turner. There are sometimes slow turners, so it’s vital to change your speed.
“In Chennai, the turner wasn’t slow, but I had to quicken the tempo of my deliveries. Consider Glenn Maxwell, who was unable to bowl Smith (to Jadeja), as an example. Therefore, velocity of deliveries also becomes crucial along with turn.
Kuldeep’s career took a dramatic turn in 2021, following knee surgery. Former India team physio Ashish Kaushik urged him to apply less strain on his right leg during the rehabilitation process, and the suggestion appears to have worked for Kuldeep. In his ten overs against Australia, he grabbed 2 for 42, with both of his wickets coming at vital moments.
“Once I was coming back from injury, it was physio Ashish Kaushik who advised that the load on my right leg should be less,” Kuldeep stated. “After my rehabilitation, I used that in my workouts and subsequently in game circumstances, and I could tell the difference. But it didn’t happen over night. Approximately six months passed before the rhythm returned.
Kuldeep’s improvement in the ODl format this year also satisfied India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey. Kuldeep deserves credit for his effort because it was done by him. You do sometimes self-realize what are the areas I need to work on when you have a chat like that with the bowler,” Mhambrey remarked. “You could see it in his bowling when he worked on particular things and made certain technical modifications. There have been several significant improvements in terms of speeds, lengths, and areas, which is good news for us.
“The way he has bowled and performed over the past few years. Not only the numbers, but it’s also the way you adapt. He offers a different variety to the team.”
While India used the spin trio of Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, and Kuldeep for their World Cup opening match, Kuldeep believed that the lineup might vary at subsequent venues.
“Not sure about the entire tournament, but over the years, we have seen you can play with three spinners in Chennai,” Kuldeep stated. It would have been challenging for us as a batting unit as well if the opposing team had three high-caliber spinners. Although I believe Maxwell bowled well, the other end didn’t help him.