Kuldeep Yadav’s struggle with red-ball cricket was apparent here on the third day of the second four-day game between India A and South Africa A at the SDNRW stadium. Aiden Markram and Wiaan Mulder — two batsmen with limited exposure to sub-continent conditions – dominated the Chinaman bowler. The duo’s authoritative show left Kuldeep scratching his head.
A quality limited overs bowler, Kuldeep, despite a few good shows in Tests, isn’t the preferred choice in the longer format notwithstanding the claims of Head Coach Ravi Shastri. Ahead of the three-match rubber against South Africa starting October 2, Kuldeep comes with just one-Test experience from the four-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia in January this year. With seasoned customers Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin in the squad, Kuldeep may have to wait for his turn to play the seventh Test of his career.
“It’s hard to play red-ball cricket when you aren’t consistently playing that format,” Kuldeep began when asked about the challenges he faced in the longer format. “If you aren’t a regular in this format, it takes time to get into your rhythm. When you are consistently playing limited overs and suddenly switch to Tests without much preparation, it will be tough to excel. You need to bowl long spells, play practice games, to understand field placements and to know how to pick wickets,” he explained.
The 24-year-old felt it’s important for him to be patient. “We have three best spinners in Jaddu (Jadeja), Ash (Ashwin) and myself. It’s challenging for the selectors to get the right combination. Of course I feel the pressure because I might get one or two opportunities and I cannot afford to waste them,” he said.
Once a certainty in the T20I squad, Kuldeep, and his wrist spin partner Yuzvendra Chahal, weren’t named in the series’ against the West Indies and the ongoing one against South Africa. There is no threat yet to the Uttar Pradesh cricketer’s place as India are, for now, just trying out different options as a part of their preparations for the T20 World Cup next year in Australia. Kuldeep said he has numbers to prove his worth in white-ball cricket.
“So far, I have done a good job in limited overs format. I feel very comfortable with the white ball. I am not worried about not being picked for the last two T20I series. Maybe the selectors felt I needed a break. Maybe the team thinks some changes are required. I respect that,” he reasoned.
After a terrific start, Kuldeep’s career has had its share of lows. Following a forgettable IPL, in which he was reduced to tears, Kuldeep had a sub-par World Cup, picking just six wickets from seven games. He stressed that accuracy is the biggest challenge for wrist spinners today.
“There is no doubt that wrist spinners are dominating the world. But sometimes, when you try to stop runs, you actually turn out to be expensive. We need to work on our accuracy. You need to accept that you do get hit for runs and work on being economical,” he said.
A spinner with good batting credentials can provide vital impetus to the line-up down the order.
Kuldeep said he is focusing on contributing with the bat as well.
“I worked on my batting with previous coach Sanjay Bangar. I have done well with the bat in domestic tournaments. I feel my batting is good for Test cricket level,” he said.