The Rise of Knight - Kuldeep Yadav
India has a rich history when we talk about spinners. Right from the spin quartet of the 1960s and 1970s (Prasanna, Venkataraghavan, Chandrashekhar and Bishen Singh Bedi) to the current spinning duo of Ashwin and Jadeja, Indian spinners have been effective and bowled match-winning spells. India has had a lot of variety with off-spinners, leg-spinners, left-arm orthodox in the attack but never had a chinaman bowler before. With the addition of Kuldeep Yadav in the fourth Test against Australia, India found its first!
The Uttar Pradesh lad had no plans of becoming a spin bowler though but was pushed by his coach to take up the rare skill. Talking more about Kuldeep, we had successfully bid for him in the 2014 IPL Auction. Later in the same year, he performed exceptionally well in the Under-19 World Cup and attracted many eyeballs. In that tournament, he picked up 14 wickets at an average of 16.42 which included a hat-trick (vs Scotland) as well.
But with spinners like Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hasan and Piyush Chawla already in the KKR setup, Kuldeep found it difficult to be a part of the starting XI. He gained a lot of exposure by being a part of the squad though. In the 2014 Champions League, he got the opportunity to prove his worth and the youngster grabbed it with both hands. He picked up 6 wickets in 5 matches with an impressive economy of just 7.50.
Kuldeep has learnt a lot during his time with us. Brad Hogg, who joined in 2015, helped bring more variety into Kuldeep's game. The vital inputs reaped benefits as he continued to do well in the domestic circuit. Being a chinaman bowler himself, the veteran guided him with bowling flippers, the faster ones and wrong'uns.
With every passing day, Kuldeep became a clever bowler and it started reflecting on his overall game. After a great 2016-17 Ranji Trophy season, where he topped the list of most runs - 466 at an average of 35.84 and most wickets - 35 in 8 matches (for Uttar Pradesh), he got the maiden call-up for the one-off Test against Bangladesh. His hard work finally paid off as he was picked against Australia in Dharamsala. Debutant Kuldeep went on to bamboozle the Australian side in the first innings who failed to pick his variations. The whole KKR fraternity is proud of his progress and wish the best for him!