Kuldeep Yadav had his task cut out when he came out to bowl against Rajasthan Royals (RR). Prior to the game, he had nine wickets in 12 games, at an average of 35.11 and an economy rate of 8.94.
The chinaman spinner had not looked confident in the league thus far. Just a few days ago, Ishan Kishan had hit him for five sixes with four of them coming on consecutive deliveries.
Kuldeep was assigned with the task of containing a dangerous Jos Buttler and Ajinkya Rahane. Well, things changed dramatically when he dismissed Rahane with his second ball of the night.
The left-arm spinner was back to his best after the wicket and went on to destroy the Royals. In his next over, Kuldeep’s discipline forced Jos Buttler into another reverse sweep. A thick leading edge was taken at backward point.
In his third over, Stuart Binny failed to read a googly and was stumped. On the similar lines, Kuldeep had Ben Stokes caught off a leading edge.
Kuldeep went on to finish the game with figures of four for 20- his best in the IPL. His four-wicket haul triggered a collapse that saw Royals getting all out for 142 despite being comfortably placed at 76 for one at one stage.
In reply, the Knight Riders chased down the total in 18 overs to remain on course for a playoff spot.
Speaking after the game, Kuldeep insisted that he had not done much wrong in the previous games but had become defensive due to the batsmen.
“I hadn’t done much wrong in the last game too but the batsman (Kishan) had batted well. But when that happens, it tends to alter your mindset. I had become defensive; I was thinking ‘let me try and choke the run flow’. But then, I am not that kind of bowler. It is only when I attack that I get wickets most of the time. That is my strength,” Kuldeep was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
The promising wrist-spinner Kuldeep further said that Rahane and Buttler’s wickets were important for him as it restored his confidence.
“His (Rahane) wicket was very important for me. It was my first over and they were some 70 plus for one in six overs and going good. So Ajju bhai’s wicket was very important and later on, that of Jos Buttler. When you are confident, the ball tends to turn as well,” he remarked.
“His wicket was important for our team. Because he is the kind of player who, if he stayed for 10 more overs, could have taken Royals to 170-180. He was the main wicket and my plan against him worked very well,” he added.
The Knight Riders next take on table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad in their last league game as Kuldeep Yadav would be eyeing to give his best.