After being left out of India’s T20I squad for the second straight series, wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav said that he isn’t worried about his non-selection, and instead saw this as an opportunity to hone his red-ball skills with the A team.
Kuldeep has had a bit of a downward trajectory since the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League, where he took a pounding and finished with four wickets in nine matches, having gone at 8.66 runs an over.
That was followed by an equally lackluster ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 campaign, where seven matches gave him six wickets, at an average of 56.16, while his economy rate was 5.02. It led to Kuldeep being left out of the T20Is, where he is still ranked among the top ten in the world, for both the West Indies tour and the ongoing home series against South Africa.
It was a far from accurate reflection of Kuldeep, in whose presence India have lost just 13 of the 53 ODIs they have played. Kuldeep had a huge role to play in those wins too. Starting from 2018, until before the World Cup, he snared 65 wickets in 30 matches at an average 20.72, with an economy of under five. He formed a prolific combination with Yuzvendra Chahal, with the duo featured among the top ten ODI bowlers until as recently as early this year.
Now, Kuldeep is fresh off a four-day affair against South Africa A in Mysore, where he captured 4/121 in the only innings in which India A bowled. "So far, I have done a good job in limited-overs format. I feel very comfortable with the white ball," Kuldeep told The Hindu and Deccan Herald. "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, and I have no complaints. I see this as an opportunity to do well in Tests."
As of now, Kuldeep seems to be India’s third-choice spinner in Tests. He has had a solid start to his long-format career at the international level, with six matches fetching 24 wickets, with two four-wicket hauls and two five-wicket hauls in 10 innings. One of those came in Sydney, prompting India coach Ravi Shastri to declare that Kuldeep would be India’s first-choice spinner overseas.
"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, and I have no complaints.
That wasn’t the case in the West Indies, where that honour went to Ravindra Jadeja, but Kuldeep remains a part of the plans. "It's hard to play red-ball cricket when you aren't consistently playing that format," Kuldeep said.
"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. It was important for me to come here and bowl as many overs as possible. There is still plenty of work to do.
"When three spinners like Ashwin, Jaddu and I are in the squad, it's challenging to pick the right combination. You need to be ready to grab your chance. Of course, there is pressure because you only get a few chances, and you have to make full use of them."
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