Tough switching from white-ball cricket to red-ball format: Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav took his second five-wicket-haul against Australia in Sydney in January. (AFP Image)

Kuldeep Yadav admits to have gained plenty of experience from his flop showing in the 2018 Lord’s Test between India and England. Playing his first Test in a year, Kuldeep was picked for the second Test in August 2018 and on a green deck, gave away 44 runs without picking up a wicket. He was left out of the third Test at Trent Bridge after which Kuldeep was sent home, his name not appearing in the Test squad for the remaining two Tests.

While his stocks continue to increase in the limited-overs format, it is the read ball where Kuldeep’s real challenge lies. Looking back at the last year, Kuldeep admitted that he found switching from white-ball cricket to red-ball cricket tough and continues to learn about the nuances of Test cricket after his ineffective outing at Lord’s last year. (READ: Kuldeep on his learnings from Chahal)

“It’s very difficult to switch from white-ball cricket to red-ball cricket. If you keep playing red-ball cricket, it’s easy to adjust as a spinner, but I’m regularly playing with the white ball, so when I got the chance [at Lord’s], I wasn’t prepared enough to tackle everything. For me, red-ball cricket is the biggest challenge. Everyone loves Test cricket and I’m no different,” Kuldeep told ESPNcricinfo.

“It’s difficult when you’re playing abroad. At Lord’s, I can’t say the conditions weren’t up to the mark, but it was difficult. I wasn’t used to bowling with the Dukes ball, so when I returned, I worked really hard with my coach [Kapil Pandey]. I discussed what I’d done there, and from then, I started thinking about Test cricket. That has been the one thing in my mind since then.”

Kuldeep returned from the home series against the West Indies and registered his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests in the first game at Rajkot. Awaiting a testing tour of Australia, Kuldeep explained how he geared up for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and ended up with his second five-for in the final Test in Sydney.

“I first started bowling with the SG red ball, because we were playing at home against Australia A. Then I realised maybe I should bowl with the Kookaburra as well, because I thought if I perform well against West Indies, I could get a chance in Australia. I bowled for two days, 16-17 overs, with it. I found it easy to handle – you get good grip,” said Kuldeep.

“It felt like I was making my debut (in Sydney). I didn’t want to make the mistakes I made at Lord’s. I planned. Like, Usman Khawaja is a good player through the off side, so I planned to bowl a few wrong’uns to him.”

Kuldeep also credited Shane Warne’s inputs for bringing about changes in his bowling. During the tour of Australia, coach Ravi Shastri got the two to chat, and who better than the greatest spinner of all-time for Kuldeep to learn from.

“He looked at one replay on commentary and suggested minor changes with my bowling arm. He pointed to my knees bending at the time of release, and body alignment. He felt if it is straight, I’d be able to use my core better and be able to flight the ball more,” Kuldeep said.

“He also spoke to me about the kind of fields you need to set in Australia. The lengths you need to vary for your stock ball, googly and flipper. I was like, “Wow, this man is like an encyclopaedia.” He demonstrated by bowling left-handed. Even now, from time to time he sends me texts and I remain in touch with him with him on WhatsApp. It has been great to have his support.”