With Ravindra Jadeja suspended for the final Test due to the cumulation of six demerit points within a 24 month period, chinaman Kuldeep Yadav could be in line to play his first game on foreign soil.
The 22-year-old, who made his Test debut earlier this year in the final Test against Australia in Dharamsala, is aware about the huge prospect that lies ahead.
“Obviously there is excitement,” he said while speaking to the media on Wednesday (August 9). “I was excited to play my debut Test as well, so if I get a chance to play in Sri Lanka. I will be very happy because I have been working hard and this will be a result of that. So obviously excited, but also there is nervousness that I should be able to perform.
“Definitely you will have to wait for your chance if the #1 and #2 spinners are in the same squad as you. You cannot walk into the team so easily. You have to wait, that’s rule of cricket. It is good that I have worked with them and I have been in the team with them for the last 6-7 months, so I have got to learn a lot from them, especially playing Test cricket with them. You gain experience like this and it helps in the future. I try to stay with them mostly and keep talking to them and they help me a lot.
Though there’s been no announcement from the team management regarding Kuldeep’s inclusion in the Pallekele Test, the left-armer is confident of making an impact, courtesy the motivation from head coach Ravi Shastri. “It is still not clear (on his inclusion in the final XI) because there are three days left for practice. But ever since I have come here, Shastri sir keeps on motivating me. I have been doing nets and he has been talking to me during the nets from even before the first Test. It is a good experience.”
Though it is his first overseas tour, Kuldeep revealed that he didn’t need to alter his preparation due to the similar nature of the wickets in Sri Lanka and back home. “I didn’t plan anything in particular, but you do work a little bit on your mindset because you are bowling on overseas wickets. Here wickets are a bit similar to Indian wickets. So you do have an idea of how to bowl. Only the batsmen are a bit different in terms of their approach, foreign cricketers have a different approach to playing in the subcontinent, not too different here but obviously I have planned a little bit. If I am able to carry it to the field, it will be good.
“Mendis and Karunaratne batted very well in the last Test, they played the sweep very well. It is difficult for spinners if the batsmen are playing the sweep so effectively. It becomes easy for the batsmen and tougher for the bowlers, so my plan is to try and control that they do not play sweep shots as much. But playing the sweep also means a lot of chances so if you plan even a little for them it becomes very helpful.”
On asked whether he thought that a left-arm leg-spinner created more chances of taking wickets, the 22-year-old said, “It doesn’t matter actually if you are left-arm spinner or right-arm spinner. It is about bowling in the right areas, that’s what matters more. If you are bowling quality balls then batsmen will have trouble and you will get more chances for taking wickets.”
The Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo turned out to be a rank turner but Pallekele wicket is not expected to offer similar assistance for the spinners. However, Kuldeep refused to read much into that. “For me, the wicket doesn’t matter. I don’t see the wicket at all. In my childhood, I used to bowl on cement wickets and there can be no better wickets than cement wickets. It is challenging because there is more bounce on grassy wickets and the ball skids a lot as well. Spinners get some advantage as well even if there is not much turn.”
Kuldeep also said he was happy with the fact that the captain has confidence in him, especially due to his performances in the West Indies tour. “Obviously if the captain believes in you then you have done half your work. Captain’s belief is very important and Virat bhai supports me a lot. He supported me completely in West Indies and the way he talks to the players on the ground, the way he spoke to me in the ODIs, it felt very nice because captain’s confidence is the biggest thing for a player.”