By Debayan Mukherjee
New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) If India’s tour of England in 2018 is anything to go by, spin twins Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will have to play a crucial role if India skipper Virat Kohli is to stand victorious on July 14 at the Lord’s balcony with the coveted World Cup. The second half of the English summer is known to help spinners and that was all the more evident during India’s last tour as Kuldeep had the English batsmen stuck in a web.
But the lead-up to this year’s World Cup hasn’t been all that good for the spinner. He was dropped from the Kolkata Knight Riders squad in the latter half of this year’s Indian Premier League as he failed to work his magic in the T20 league. But the mark of any champion cricketer is his ability to strike back and make a statement when the chips are down. And Kuldeep is ready for the challenge.
“T20 cricket is vastly different from one day cricket. IPL is different to one day cricket also. In franchise cricket, there is no pressure. When you play for India there is so much pressure. There is always pressure to perform when you walk onto the field. But what is important is how you channelize that to ensure that you achieve your goals. I don’t think there is any added pressure. It is more about being able to tick the right boxes than anything else.
“I think as a matured cricketer now and try to play for the team. If you have a quality wrist spinner, he will dominate in any format,” Kuldeep stressed during an interaction with IANS.
Even though there have been talks in the media in the last couple of days over how Kuldeep had said that M.S. Dhoni also makes mistakes, it was a clear case of media going overboard and misinterpreting a comment made in good humour. In fact, his respect for the seniors in the team is evident from the fact that he believes that the success that Chahal and he have managed to achieve is due to the trio of Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
“What we have achieved as a team in the last couple of seasons has a lot to do with the way Kohli bhai and Dhoni bhai guide us in the middle. While you can all hear Dhoni bhai constantly guiding us on the stump microphone, Kohli bhai and Rohit bhai work closely with Dhoni bhai to actually plan our strategies. It is a complete work of the seniors who are brilliant when it comes to first planning and then implementing the plans.
“Credit has been given to us (Kuldeep and Chahal), but we couldn’t have been half as effective had it not been for the senior pros guiding us. You need a skipper who backs you and believes in your ability to shine on the big stage. You think we could have been so successful if Kohli bhai had not given us the freedom to attack? I don’t think so,” he revealed.
Among the teams at the World Cup, Kuldeep will come up against KKR teammate Andre Rusell and the West Indies all-rounder took the IPL by storm this season. Has he got his plans in place?
“I have my plans for him,” pat came the reply. “He attacks spinners less. If you spin the ball, he is not too comfortable with that. If you spin the ball, I think that’s his weakness. Any spinner will benefit if the ball turns. Everyone struggles and Russell is no different.”
While Kuldeep had a subdued IPL, India skipper Kohli too did not light have much to write home about. Kohli-led RCB finished last in the 10-team points table and with the bat, the 30-year old, regarded as one of the best batsmen of his generation, scored only 464 runs in 14 innings at 33.14.
Kuldeep, though, remained bullish that for a player of Kohli’s calibre, IPL form won’t matter much as he is a different beast when it comes to playing for the country
“I don’t think he will be affected by IPL performance. He is too big a player for that. He is one of the best in the world. His passion is at another level when he plays for India. His hunger is extreme,” he cautioned the opposition teams.
(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at [email protected])