A team is as good as its players. Agreed. When certain top players are missing from the Playing XI, it can certainly hurt a team. But does this mean taking away credit from the players of the opposition if they pull off a win?
India won the 2018-19 four-match Test series (2-1) against Australia Down Under with the last Test being dampened by rain and ending without a result. However, some critics insisted that it was the absence of experienced players like David Warner and Steve Smith from Australia’s fold that had made things easy for India.
Kuldeep Yadav, who was a part of the team, has a simple one-liner to clear the air around the matter. “A Test series can never be won by luck!”
Talking to KKR.in, the chinaman said, “You need to win Test matches to win a series. We won two of them, and could have one the fourth one too had there been no rain. The criticism holds no merit. Whenever you are playing against a team, your own team’s performance matters the most. So instead of looking at the other team - who they have in their squad, and who they don’t - it makes more sense to talk about your own team. We did well, and hence we won the Test series. If our fast bowling works well and we perform as prolifically with the bat as we did the last time, we will win this time too.”
“Yes, their team has now improved with the return of the experienced David Warner, Steve Smith and the likes of Marnus (Labuschagne), who has really done well for them in recent times. But last time too, their team was good but we played really some really good cricket to win. Looking forward to the challenge once again, it’s going to be a great contest.”
Kuldeep, who could be playing his first day-night Test match outside India (the Adelaide Test, starting on December 17), felt that spinners could pose a good challenge to batsmen under the lights.
“I feel it's difficult to read spinners at night, because if a spinner uses variations it's not always easy to spot the seam position of the ball. That can be an advantage for us. I have never experienced a pink ball match outside India. So, it will be exciting to see how it goes.” he said.
“It’ll be unfair to say spinners haven’t dominated in Australian conditions, there have been many instances when spinners have done well down under. It completely depends on how quickly you adapt to, and read the conditions. A lot of us, having played so much T20 cricket of late, will have to be patient when playing Test cricket. Mental toughness is very important. When switching to the longer format, you sometimes tend to try too many things too quickly. Wickets don’t come easy in Test cricket, so patience is the key.”
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Kuldeep has idolised Shane Warne from a young age and now, once again playing in Australia - has he got a chance to speak to the legend to pick up any tips?
“He has shared a lot of valuable inputs about bowling over the years, but mainly, he talks about mental preparation. One thing he always insists on is to always wear a smile on my face. He has told me that's a very important virtue for a spinner. If your face shows any sense of stress, your body language goes for a toss. I’ve worked on this specifically and I consider it as one of the best advice I’ve got,” Kuldeep added.
Finally, any personal goals on this tour?
“Not really. When you play for the country, you are not playing for yourself, there is a much bigger motivation than that. Whenever I get a chance, I hope to do my best and if I can win a Test match for my team, that would make me very happy.”