Manchester: Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who triggered Pakistan’s downfall when he broke the vital second wicket partnership between Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman, was delighted about the superb delivery which scalped Azam.
“It felt really good. An India-Pakistan match is always a high-intensity game. Fans have a lot of expectations, especially if it is in the World Cup. This was my first World Cup match against Pakistan, so there were a lot of expectations from friends and family as well. The ball I bowled to Babar was a very good one...call it a dream ball if you like. We needed to get a breakthrough since at that stage they looked well settled in the middle. So this was an important wicket for the team and for me too.”
Yadav was under some pressure before the World Cup since he had struggled during the Indian Premier League (IPL). When asked what was hindering him from getting wickets then, he said: “I have been bowling well from the first match and I don’t ever doubt my skills. This is a 50-over game and a longer format, unlike the T20 format. In the shorter version, you may bowl well but still get hit and may not get wickets. So at that time, it is very important to back yourself. In the match against Australia, I kept the scoring in check because the batsmen were very good. Although I didn’t get wickets, their required run rate kept going up. When the ball leaves your hand well, slowly the wickets also start coming.”
Yadav enjoys taking wickets of top level batsmen, and hence he considers Azam’s wicket as special. “Babar and Fakhar bat well against spinners. They rotate the strike and attack when needed so it was very important to break that partnership; moreover, Babar is a good player of spin. Then when Fakhar got out almost immediately, they came under pressure of the DLS. Suddenly they needed a lot of runs, and that was a plus point for us.”
How was it in the field when the team lost Bhuvneshwar Kumar to an injury? Yadav said: “When Bhuvi bhai (brother) got injured, we had five bowlers and we knew that if we kept picking wickets, the pressure of losing him would become lesser and lesser. Vijay Shankar was playing and he is an all-rounder who bowls really well and is a fast bowler. Under those conditions, we needed fast bowlers: so that was what we were working on.”