Kuldeep Yadav has revealed that his idol and mentor Shane Warne, after observing his body language, advised him to always keep his shoulders up and act strong even during the direst of circumstances. Kuldeep also quipped that he adores his ‘friend’ Warne’s dismissal of Strauss in Ashes 2005.
Kuldeep Yadav, as a kid, wanted to become a left-arm speedster but, as fate had it, he turned out to be the rarest of rare breeds - a left arm wrist-spinner. This transformation meant that from Wasim Akram - who he worked with, in KKR - his idol became Shane Warne and after years of adoring the Aussie champion through television, the wrist-spinner finally got to meet the wizard in 2017, during Australia’s away assignment in India. The duo have since shared a great relationship, with Warne becoming Kuldeep’s mentor and offering him invaluable advice from time to time.
Speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, Kuldeep gave a sneak peek into one such word of wisdom that the Aussie legend filled him up with, quite a while ago.
“He's studied my bowling action, he's given me plenty of inputs. On my body alignment, working out angles, about situations, having a positive body language. He told me once that he noticed how when someone hit me for a couple of sixes or fours, I'd have the look of someone who is defeated,” Kuldeep told ESPN Cricinfo.
“He told me, "Don't ever give the impression to the batsman that you're nervous, even if you are. Act as if you believe you're on top of your game. You may be going through the worst of days, but always ensure you're giving a big smile. Play with that smile for as long as you're on the ground."
Warne’s famous ball to Mike Gatting in the 1993 Ashes is known as the “Ball of the century”, but the miserly leggie came up with a contender for another ‘Ball of the century’ in Ashes 2005, when he went through the gates of Andrew Strauss from around the wicket, after pitching the ball on a rough patch almost on the edge of the wicket. Kuldeep described ‘that’ dismissal as his favourite.
“The ball he bowled to get Andrew Strauss for his 700th wicket is something I've watched on loop on YouTube. I've also watched a few of his battles with Brian Lara, and I'm still in awe of that wicket of Strauss [in the 2005 Ashes], where he pitched one miles outside the rough and bowled him.”
Kuldeep, himself, claimed a five-fer in his mentor’s country in Sydney just under a couple of years ago and one of those dismissals was a wrist-spinner’s delight - the one that bowled Tim Paine through the gate. The 25-year-old revealed that Warne complimented him for the dream dismissal and proudly proclaimed that he now calls the Australian legend his friend.
“As for compliments, he was particularly pleased with my dismissal of Tim Paine in the Sydney Test of 2018-19. The way the ball drifted away, dipped, and how I got him to commit forward and bowled him through the gate.
“He was super impressed with that. Now he tells me, "See, I told you so" whenever I do well in any format. The first time we met, he said I had it in me to succeed in all formats. Today, I can call him a friend.”