Kuldeep Yadav is no stranger to setbacks
Over the last four years — with multiple injuries, being sidelined by his IPL franchise, a career-threatening knee surgery and patches of poor form — the left-arm spinner’s journey in professional cricket has been nothing short of challenging
He made a return from injury in February 2022, in the lead up to which he had made small tweaks in his technique and approach. Kuldeep claimed 39 wickets in 22 ODIs that year alone.
Over the last 18 months, Kuldeep 2.0 has been attacking the stumps more, with minor technical adjustments including a straighter run-up and an inward angled hand movement in the follow-through, and this has resulted in his emerging as India’s premier spinner in limited overs cricket.
Kuldeep spun his way to a crucial five-wicket haul against Pakistan in the Asia Cup, and followed it up with a four-wicket haul against Sri Lanka, helping him go up to 31 wickets in 15 ODIs in 2023 so far, making him the most successful Indian bowler in the format with a World Cup around the corner.
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Pakistan’s famed batting lineup had no answers to the angles Kuldeep managed at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. He took out Fakhar Zaman before going on to wipe out the middle order, conceding only 25 runs in the process. His efforts helped India seal a mammoth 228-run win against Babar Azam’s men, their biggest win against Pakistan ever in the format.
India was in a precarious position against Sri Lanka, after being restricted to 213, losing all wickets to spinners with Dunith Wellalage leading the charge. Kuldeep helped stage India’s response with a four wicket haul for, showing why he is so well rated in the world
In six years of international cricket, and 146 wickets from 87 ODIs under his belt including hattricks against Australia (in 2017) and West Indies (in 2019), Kuldeep was still not a sure shot name in India’s contingent for the big showpiece.
However, selectors showed faith in him over the leg spin of compatriot and friend Yuzvendra Chahal when they announced India’s World Cup squad on September 5.
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Kuldeep is India’s lone specialist spin option for the World Cup and if how unplayable he was against Pakistan and Sri Lanka is anything to go by, India has a real ace up its sleeve as it looks to regain the World crown at home