By Niharika Raina
New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS): In IPL 2022, Kuldeep Yadav's renaissance run, bowling quicker and blooming with confidence while picking 21 wickets for Delhi Capitals was a very heartening sight. Many expected for his glittering run to continue in India's T20I series against South Africa in June.
But a hand injury kept him out of the series as well as from the trips to Ireland and England as well as the ODIs against the West Indies. He finally got a chance in the fifth T20I against the West Indies at Lauderhill, taking three scalps in a superb bowling show where spinners took all 10 wickets.
Former India left-arm spinner Maninder Singh believes Kuldeep's recent great showings have been a huge positive and if the left-arm wrist-spinner continues to put in consistent performances, he can be in India's squad for the ODI World Cup next year in the country.
"Kuldeep Yadav's performance had started to go down. But the way he made a comeback while playing for Delhi Capitals this year, it was showing that he had worked hard. Seeing a player's expressions when on the field and body language is enough to say that the player had worked hard when coming back to playing cricket. The great performance he had for Delhi Capitals and the confidence he got from there was there to see on the field in the (recent) international cricket match (fifth T20I against West Indies)."
"I still think he needs to perform consistently and if he does that constantly on the field, then he can be in the ODI World Cup which will happen in India in 2023. He brings a different variety as he's a left-arm chinaman (wrist-spin) and has the knack of picking wickets when he started out in international cricket, which is very important in the middle overs to stem the run-rate of the opposition," said Maninder in an exclusive interaction with IANS organised by Sony Sports Network.
Maninder further called Kuldeep's recent performances as a huge positive, especially when he had gone out of favour due to a mix of lean form and knee injury sustained while being with Kolkata Knight Riders during the second half of IPL 2021.
"This is a very big positive as, according to me, the way he was fading and was not handled well, it felt as if a talented bowler could be lost. Because of this, I had made one-two comments previously that if he stays away from T20 cricket, it would be better for him. But this can't happen, you can just think about it as a lot of money is involved and a player needs money in life for security. He has worked hard because of which he has got great results."
Left-arm spin all-rounder Axar Patel, Kuldeep's team-mate in Delhi Capitals, has been in the limelight for an unbeaten 64 off 35 balls, which was also his maiden half-century in ODI cricket. His exploits won India the second ODI and series against West Indies in Trinidad.
Maninder was delighted with Patel's recent batting show, but still wants to see more of his consistent batting returns. He remembered the words of a Gujarat player, who played alongside Patel and talked highly of the all-rounder's batting abilities.
"Last year, I was talking to a player from Gujarat who's played alongside him and was constantly praising his batting skills. When he bats, he becomes a very graceful batsman and has got great shots which we didn't see before. I had seen one or two glimpses of it but a big score was due. But now that he bowls well and has got the confidence, it is blooming very well with the bat. I would like to see more of him in the batting if he performs consistency."
Maninder signed off by saying there will be headache for selectors if Patel performs consistently, especially with Jadeja missing matches previously due to injuries. "One thing which is there to see is that as he plays more of international cricket, his self-belief is growing, which is good for both the Indian team and Axar Patel. But it's better for the Indian team as Ravindra Jadeja gets injured in between and has to miss some series, then make a comeback. Also, he is getting older.
"In that case, Axar Patel, with the batting performance he showed against the West Indies and the exploits he did, if he continues to put it out consistently, it will be great. He can be a headache for the selectors as Jadeja has performed wonderfully. But this competition is very good for any team as a senior player like Jadeja, who sees over his shoulder that someone is ready to take his spot, then he works even harder, which is great for any team," said Maninder ahead of the series against Zimbabwe, which will be broadcast on Sony Sports Network from August 18 to 22.