At best, Kuldeep Yadav was having an iffy IPL11. Then, Ishan Kishan messed up his mind with four successive sixes when the chinaman bowler last played at the Eden Gardens before Tuesday. It was enough for one of India’s most successful spinner, who plays all three formats for the country and had once dismissed David Warner five times, to have doubts creep in.
“I hadn’t done much wrong in the last game too but the batsman (Kishan) had batted well. But when that happens, it tends to alter your mindset. I had become defensive; I was thinking ‘let me try and choke the run flow’. But then, I am not that kind of bowler. It is only when I attack that I get wickets most of the time. That is my strength,” said Man-of-the-Match Yadav whose 4/20 kept KKR in the hunt for a playoff berth following a six-wicket win against Rajasthan Royals here.
Then Ajinkya Rahane, who has been having problems of his own this season, tried to reverse-sweep and, on a night when his idol Shane Warne was in house, it started coming together for Yadav. After all, four sixes and a comeback have a precedent here; Ben Stokes having done it after the Carlos Brathwaite blitz in 2016 with a Man of the Match showing for England last year.
“His (Rahane) wicket was very important for me. It was my first over and they were some 70 plus for one in six overs and going good. So Ajju bhai’s wicket was very important and later on, that of Jos Buttler,” he said.
Getting Rahane gave Yadav the confidence that he seems to have lacked in most of IPL 11. “When you are confident, the ball tends to turn as well,” he said. That helped Yadav dismiss Stuart Binny and Ben Stokes too but it was Buttler’s wicket that was special, he said.
“His wicket was important for our team. Because he is the kind of player who, if he stayed for 10 more overs, could have taken Royals to 170-180. He was the main wicket and my plan against him worked very well.” The plan essentially was to hurry Buttler into the reverse-sweep and as the England star couldn’t keep it down, Javon Scantlebury-Searles completed a regulation catch at short third man. It triggered a collapse that left Royals in ruins.
“Today, I felt that my rhythm was good. And when wickets start falling, the batsmen came under pressure and that, in turn, boosted my confidence,” said Yadav.
It isn’t always that way. “Sometimes it is hard to come back when you go for so many in a game. You tend to think too much and ignore your strengths. I spoke to my coach, who told me stick to basics and don’t try too much. That is what I did,” said Yadav.
Going into Tuesday’s match, Yadav had nine wickets in 12 games and though skipper Dinesh Karthik backed him after the mauling by Kishan, questions were beginning to be asked. He may not have answered all of them but this wicket-every-over spell may be crucial in KKR’s quest to survive the league phase.