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Wanted to leave a strong imprint: Kuldeep

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav, the two architects of India's 50-run win in 2nd ODI analyze the match

In the first ODI at Chennai, India's young spinner Kuldeep Yadav picked two big wickets from the four overs he bowled. His first victim was David Warner, the dangerous opening batsman, and all-rounder Marcus Stoinis.

India took a 1-0 lead and the performance of both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep was highly praised. It was Kuldeep's first ODI against Australia, but he wasn't content. Barely 15 minutes after the game, he had begun planning for the 2nd ODI at Kolkata. Kuldeep was smashed for three sixes and a four in one over by Glenn Maxwell and the spinner was confident he could have done better.

The two days post that rain-truncated ODI in Chennai did not help much as India entered the 2nd ODI without a practice session as the covers were for both days leading up to the ODI. In Kolkata, Kuldeep was introduced in the 16th over, but the action unfolded in his third over when this time Maxwell again cleared the fence on two occasions.

Chahal removed Maxwell from the other end and the onus was on Kuldeep to capitalize. In the 33rd over, history was created at the Eden Gardens for one more time. For ardent cricket fans in Kolkata, it was a trip down the memory lane as Kuldeep removed Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins in three balls to become the third Indian after Chetan Sharma and Kapil Dev to take a hat-trick in ODIs.
Incidentally, Kapil Dev too took a hat-trick at the Eden Gardens where Harabhajan Singh too tormented the Aussies in that epic Test with a hat-trick in 2001.

A lot of credit for India's 50 run win goes to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the silent performer who made 20 with the bat in an important 35-run stand with Hardik Pandya for the seventh wicket and bowled a terrific opening spell of 6-2-9-2.

The two stars of the match later forged another partnership in front of the camera as they analyzed the match forbcci.tv.

Here’s what the two discussed.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar: You are the third Indian to take a hat-trick? Did you think it was possible?

Kuldeep Yadav: It feels really special now, as that start was not good. With the kind of start I had, I never thought I would end up taking a hat-trick. I did not bowl well from one end and it was getting difficult to grip the ball as it was getting wet. When my end was changed, I wanted to pick one wicket to put the pressure back on Australia. A partnership was built and it was crucial for us to get a breakthrough at that moment. I wanted to try out my variations, but was looking to land the ball in the right areas.

Bhuvi: You play for KKR. You must have felt familiar playing here at the Eden Gardens.

Kuldeep: Yes, I have been playing at the Eden Gardens for a few years now as it is KKR's home ground. The pitch was familiar. It felt like a home ground to me today as well when I stepped out and that is why I wanted to leave a big imprint.

Bhuvi: Let’s talk about your variations and the hat-trick. What was your plan for the hat-trick ball?


Kuldeep: For the hat-trick ball, I didn't think I would get a wicket if the ball spun in. The only way in that scenario would have been a bat-pad opportunity. There was a slip in place so I chose the wrong’un.

Kuldeep: Everyone knows you bowl well with the new ball and are equally effective when the ball gets old. What are the things you focus when you are handed a new ball?

Bhuvi: We knew that we had to take wickets at regular intervals to win the match as our total was 251. I try not to put extra pressure on me and not get too desperate for a wicket. I wanted to swing the ball and bowl as many dots as possible.

Kuldeep:
You bowled very well to David Warner. You play for SRH, but I have noticed that he does not read you. You dismissed him cheaply today.

Bhuvi: I know what his strengths and weaknesses are as I bowl a lot to him in the nets. He also knows my weaker areas. He knows what length I am going to bowl, but a lot depends on how well you execute your plans. During Test matches, catches had gone down and today his catch was taken and that is a part and parcel of the game. You need a bit of luck going your way.

Kuldeep: Since the Sri Lanka tour, you have been contributing regularly with the bat. You did that in Chennai and again helped us get a competitive total in Kolkata? Have you changed anything?


Bhuvi: I haven't changed my approach much, but I am a lot more confident about my batting thanks to Assistant Coach Sanjay Bangar. He works hard on my batting in the nets. He said I can contribute with the bat in ODIs too. I know I can't hit sixes like MS Dhoni or Hardik Pandya does, but when there is a situation where you have to bat for 15 or 20 overs, I can handle that well. The half-century in Sri Lanka (53 not out) came under similar circumstances and it gave me a lot of confidence.

Kuldeep: What was your first reaction when Hardik Pandya at the other end got hit by your ferocious stroke?

Bhuvi: I checked my bat just to reconfirm that it was indeed me who struck the ball with so much power. When he got hit, we were all worried. It looked like a serious blow, but thankfully he was alright. Once he was back on his feet, we began planning about building a partnership.

Moulin Parikh
Moulin Parikh

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Captain is the boss of the team: Ravi Shastri

Team India Head Coach reflects on the series win, the camaraderie in the dressing room, upcoming challenges and more….

There is conviction in his thoughts, an air of confidence and positivity around him, which he carries with pride. He can be your best friend off the cricket field and at the same time one of the best guides on it.

After being with the team for 18 months as the Director, Ravi Shastri returned as the Head Coach of the team ahead of India’s tour of Sri Lanka.

India registered an emphatic win over Sri Lanka, completing a historic 3-0 clean sweep in an away Test series.

The Indian dressing is exhibiting confidence for the tasks ahead after securing a thumping 4-0 lead in the ongoing ODI series.

In a freewheeling chat with BCCI.TV, Team India Head Coach reflects on the series win, upcoming opportunities and more….


Excerpts 

Sir, Congratulations on the series win. We get a sense that you have used the Sri Lanka tour as a drawing board for the upcoming challenges. Your thoughts.

For me, every tour is a challenge. The boys know that right from my stint earlier, I’m someone who respects all oppositions. And we like to live in the present and the job at present was to do the job the way we have done. We were striving for consistency and levels of competence, which will help us down the line and we have achieved that. There is a room for improvement. You know you always have to look to improve and I’m sure the boys are fully aware of that and they’ll be up for it.

We have seen extended training sessions and simultaneously heard the laughter in the dressing room, which makes the dressing room a happy place. What do you think makes Ravi Shastri the most desired coach by the players?

I wouldn’t say that I am the most desired coach. That is for the players to say. All I’ll say is that I like to keep things simple. I am a big switch on and switch off person. I’m a huge guy when it comes to work ethics and values. As far as the team is concerned, the trust factor that exists in the dressing room, the camaraderie between the players and the support staff, like Virat has mentioned, there is no senior or junior in the team because everyone’s a team player and everyone has to contribute.

We’ve seen that in our team. The most experienced player like the former Captain MS Dhoni, he is a wonderful team man. Any youngster can approach him at any stage, in the same capacity any youngster can approach the Captain or me as the Head Coach or anyone in the support staff. That kind of camaraderie is there. If you don’t have that kind of sharing, you will not have that kind of trust. That is paramount and like we said the dressing room for us is the place. What happens in the dressing room and what’s discussed there will always stay there.

One of the key highlights of this tour has been assigning specific roles to the players and helping them feel secure and wanted. Your thoughts.

I have always said that in a team game if you don’t know what your role is, and when I say team, look at it in any walk of life, why just the cricket field. If a person is designated a role and you will see different roles for different people in a team, if they do their roles to the best of their ability, you will see the team performing wonderfully well. But if a person doesn’t know his role, then there is no clarity of thought. There is confusion and you can’t get the best out of that man’s ability. Designating a role and helping him make sure that he does the job well; that is our job. Making him feel relaxed and in a state of mind where he can go and express himself without any fear. That is the role of the support staff.

Both as a cricketer and now as a coach, you love taking the bull by the horns. Don’t you?

I have always been that way. For me - what you see is what you’ll get. I always like to call a spade a spade and people who have played with me know me fully well. People who played under me when I was a Captain they know what to expect from me and same is the case with this team. The good thing with this team is, I’ve spent 18 months with them as the Director of the team when they were actually evolving. When I took over in England with the same support staff, it was a different team. Today it is a much more seasoned team. The guys have grown in the past two and a half years and it is for everyone to see when they play out in the middle.


The coming season will see India travelling to South Africa, England and Australia. How much of this calendar is a challenge and how much of it is an opportunity to do something that has never been done before?

I think it’s a great opportunity and a challenge. The reason I say it’s a combination of both is because if you see world cricket today, there is not a single team that travels well, especially when it comes to Test matches. If you see one team that has made strides in the last couple of years, it is India. We still go on raving and ranting about the overseas tours, I feel it as a challenge because no team travels well and this team has the opportunity to be that one team that can travel well. The onus is on us, when you put in the hard yards, it might happen and might not happen. But the opportunity is there. 

If you look at India in the last two years they’ve beaten England in England in an overseas ODI series, after 24 years. They’ve beaten Australia in a T20 series 3-0, we’ve beaten Sri Lanka back-to-back in two overseas tours here.

You’ve mentioned it in the past that this is Virat’s team and the support staff is an extension to it. But Virat and you share a lot of similar traits – from putting in the hard yards to chasing excellence. Thoughts.

I think that helps. It makes communication so much easier because when the mindset is similar and you are on the same page, then that reflects in the way that you will see the other players reacting. When you see this Indian Cricket Team on the field, you feel like watching them play. There is energy, there is camaraderie, an element of sharing, an element of happiness in anyone’s success. There is great disappointment if they don’t play to their potential, which is very important. It’s a great game. It will give you a lot of happiness and at the same time bring you down to earth. That’s the beauty of sport. But, then how you get up as a team and not as an individual, that is what will define this Indian Cricket Team and that is what our endeavor is - to have a great relationship.

The Captain will always be the boss of the team. I have under me a fantastic support staff who’ve been with me right from day one when I became the Director of the team and today I’m the Head Coach of the team. And there is a certain element of bonding and trust when it comes to the players dealing with the support staff and our job is making them feel relaxed and make them feel that they are in a great mental space. 

Rajlaxmi Arora
Rajlaxmi Arora

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