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Sometimes, I miss MS Dhoni’s guidance: Kuldeep Yadav opens up about difficult phase in career

India wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav has conceded that he misses MS Dhoni’s guidance from behind the stumps as the former captain’s retirement has coincided with his dip in form in international cricket. Kuldeep, who has played only 2 ODIs and a Test in 2021 conceded that he has been low on confidence after not getting enough game time both at the international level and at the Indian Premier League.

Kuldeep Yadav said a wrist-spinner like him loves bowling with partners and pointed out that Yuzvendra Chahal and he haven’t played a lot together since MS Dhoni retired from international cricket. Notably, Kuldeep and Chahal have spoken in the past about the impact wicketkeeper Dhoni has had on their games.

As Kuldeep points out, the wrist-spin bowlers have played 44 matches together but none after MS Dhoni played his last international game at the 2019 World Cup. Kuldeep’s form has taken a massive dip as the 26-year-old has been left out of India’s squad for the World Test Championship final and the subsequent Test series against England. The Kolkata Knight Riders spinner did not get a game in now-suspended IPL 2021 despite the former champions playing in spin-friendly wickets in Chennai.

“Sometimes I miss that guidance because he (Mahi) has great experience. He used to guide us behind the wicket, kept screaming! We miss his experience. Rishabh is there now, the more he plays, the more input he will give in the future. I always felt every bowler needs a partner who can respond from the other end,” Kuldeep told The Indian Express.

“When Mahibhai was there, I and Chahal were playing. Ever since Mahi bhai left, Chahal and I haven’t played together. I played only a handful of games after Mahibhai left. I must have played ten-odd games. I had even taken a hat-trick. If you look at the performance as a whole, it will look pretty decent but if one breaks it up then my performance sometimes can look not up to the mark. One has to also look at the opposition we are playing against,” he added.

Head coach Ravi Shastri had marked Kuldeep Yadav as the team’s No.1 spinner in overseas conditions after his 5-wicket haul in Sydney. However, Kuldeep did not play a single Test for more than 2 years. He got an opportunity to play Tests against England at home earlier this year but the wrist-spinner conceded he felt a lot of pressure during his comeback Test.

“I didn’t play as many matches as I expected to, and somewhere I was low on confidence. When you are playing non-stop, players do feel high on confidence. The more one sits out the more it gets tougher. I felt a huge pressure on me when I played the Test against England in Chennai this February,” Kuldeep said.

Am I that bad? Kuldeep on lack of games at KKR

Kuldeep hasn’t benefitted from the lack of chances at his IPL franchise, KKR. The young spinner said he started questioning his quality after being benched for IPL 2021 matches in Chennai. Notably, KKR played veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh, Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy but did not give a single game to Kuldeep.

“I was especially (depressed) when I didn’t find a place in my IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders. I wondered, ‘am I that bad?’ It’s a team-management decision and it would be wrong to go and ask them. I wasn’t played in Chennai during the IPL despite knowing it’s a turner. I was a bit shocked but couldn’t do anything,” he added.

After having missed the berth to England, Kuldeep Yadav is likely to get a place in the squad for Sri Lanka tour. India will field their white-ball specialists for 3 ODIs and as many T20Is vs Sri Lanka in July during which the Test specialists, including captain Virat Kohli, will be in the UK preparing for the 5-Test series against England.

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