Kuldeep Yadav, Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) left-arm wrist-spinner has spoken about former skipper Gautam Gambhir’s role in his development during his early days with the franchise.
He was a part of the Mumbai Indians squad in the 2012 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) but couldn’t get any chances. Following a stellar performance in the 2014 Under-19 World Cup where he picked up a hat-trick, he was snapped up by KKR in that year’s IPL auction.
Kuldeep Yadav Got Plenty Of Time In Kolkata Knight Riders And Learnt From Senior Players Especially Then Captain Gautam Gambhir
Speaking in a video on KKR’s official Facebook page, Kuldeep Yadav explained what he learnt from different experienced players in the KKR squad, particularly the then captain Gautam Gambhir.
“I was a senior player during the 2014 U19 World Cup and performances happened exactly according to expectations. From there I was selected for KKR and life changed drastically. I got plenty of time in KKR. There were a lot of senior players, especially Gautam Gambhir,” Kuldeep Yadav said.
Kuldeep Yadav stated that IPL 2012 and 2014 winning skipper for KKR Gautam Gambhir mentored him brilliantly when the spinner came into the KKR side as an inexperienced youngster.
“I always keep thanking him. He guided me as a leader and taught me everything. Even before I was about to play in the Champions League, he advised me what to bowl, how to hone my skills and become a confident player,” he further added.
Under Gautam Gambhir, KKR won IPL 2012 and IPL 2014 titles but Kuldeep Yadav first played a match for KKR in 2016. In that season he picked 6 wickets averaging 16.66. He picked 12 scalps in IPL 2017 and 17 scalps in IPL 2018.
Kuldeep Yadav Feels KKR Backed Youngsters Like Him
When Kuldeep Yadav came to KKR, the side already featured world-class spinners like Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Shakib-al-Hasan. Thus, it was natural and obvious that the youngster left-arm spinner would warm the bench for the entire 2014 IPL season.
“In my first season with KKR, I was a youngster and our team was packed with the likes of Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and we had a few more good spinners in our squad,” Kuldeep Yadav noted.
However, the young spinner wasn’t disheartened by the limited opportunities he got. He realized that it was the right time for him to get better as a bowler by learning from these established stars.
He also believes KKR groomed him well when he was a newcomer which has really helped him in his career so far.
“I always felt that it was a good time for me to learn and get better. I was coming out of my U-19 days. As KKR have always backed youngsters, they took good care of me. So that first season would always be important for me,” he further added.
Kuldeep Yadav has just played 14 matches in the last two IPL seasons and has picked up a mere five wickets averaging over 50. However, the KKR franchise have shown faith in him by retaining him ahead of IPL 2021.
Kuldeep Yadav has played 6 Tests, 61 ODIs, 20 T20Is and 45 IPL games. His average of 13.77 in T20Is is exceptional while he averages less than 27 in ODIs and Tests while in IPL his average dropped to 30.9 after poor IPL 2019 and 2020. On 18 December 2019, against West Indies he became the first bowler for India to take two hat-tricks in ODIs.
IPL 2016 saw Manish Pandey, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Shakib Al Hasan, Suryakumar Yadav and Yusuf Pathan playing most games for KKR while IPL 2017 saw Colin De Grandhomme, Chris Woakes, Umesh Yadav, Robin Uthappa playing for KKR. IPL 2018 saw Dinesh Karthik appointed as full-time KKR skipper.
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