Gautam Gambhir backed me when I was nobody, says Kuldeep Yadav

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Gautam Gambhir backed me when I was nobody, says Kuldeep Yadav

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SportsCafe Desk

09/19/2017

Kuldeep Yadav has expressed his gratitude to Gautam Gambhir for guiding him during his matches for KKR in the IPL and helping him in becoming capable enough to play for the Indian team. Yadav also revealed that Virat Kohli motivated him in the Dharamsala Test despite being sidelined with an injury.

Kuldeep Yadav has been in exceptional touch over the last month, first in the Sri Lankan series and then against the Australians in the first ODI of the five-match series in Chennai on Sunday. He has been difficult to pick owing to the uncommonness of being a left-arm wrist spinner along with his commendable skills. Yadav, who is now being considered as a significant weapon of the Indian team for the 2019 World Cup, said that his journey has not been an easy one. From remaining out of the game with Mumbai Indians in his initial IPL days to waiting for the golden opportunity to get into the Indian team, it has been a rough ride for Yadav. 

The 22-year-old told CricketNext during this year’s IPL that he shall always remain grateful to Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir for supporting him when he was raw and required guidance. 

“I shall always be grateful to Gauti Bhai (Gambhir) for backing me when I was a nobody. He backed me when no one knew me. It has been a great ride under him and with my KKR teammates. I always wanted to play for India across all formats, but to channelize that desire I needed the guidance of someone like him,” Kuldeep Yadav said.

Former KKR assistant coach Vijay Dahiya also revealed an interesting story about Gambhir backing the young chinaman bowler when Mumbai Indians failed to realize his potential.

“Gambhir was very bullish and felt that Kuldeep was a rare talent. In fact, if you go by the records over the past few seasons, there were times when Kuldeep made the cut ahead of some of the more recognized names in the KKR playing XI. The reason was that Gambhir felt that Kuldeep was a match-winner. The moment we saw him, we realized that he is a special talent,” said Dahiya. 

“I am nobody to speak on their behalf (Mumbai Indians). All I know is that the moment we saw him we knew he was a raw talent who needed to be nurtured and that is what we did over the years. Gambhir played an integral role in giving Kuldeep that confident. It is not often that you come across such talent, but it is just as important to spot them and have confidence in their ability.”

Moreover, not just Gambhir, but even Captain Virat Kohli played a central role in supporting him during the fourth Test of the series against Australia in Dharamsala. Incidentally, it was the first time in 85 years that a chinaman bowler has been selected to play for the Indian national team. And he turned out to be a wildcard as he picked the wicket of David Warner with his 25th ball in Test cricket. Although skipper Kohli wasn’t playing the match owing to an injury, he constantly kept talking to Kuldeep at the boundary and the leggie disclosed that Kohli was calming his nerves. 

“He kept speaking to me and calming me down. I was desperate to play for the country and often you lose the plot and get overawed by the situation. After all, it was a dream I was realizing. But Virat bhai kept asking me to enjoy the moment and not think too much about the situation. He kept asking me to focus on my strengths and bowl in the right areas. It was a good feeling to have him egg you on from the sidelines,” the spinner said.

Kuldeep successfully dismissed Warner again in the first ODI. However, his love for Australia goes back to KKR bowler Brad Hogg who the spinner said he kept bothering to polish up his own skills. 

“I would keep picking on his brain. Our art is any way rare. I feel I was lucky to have someone like him in my own team. It helped to get to see him from close quarters. I was always open to his ideas and tried to learn as much as I could,” he signed off.

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