Kuldeep Yadav, the spinner who burst in to India team in 2017 after the Champions Trophy loss to Pakistan, had tasted immediate success and was hailed as an outright matchwinner for India as players around the world found him hard to pick on.
He picked up a hat-trick in only the ninth match of his career against Australia, and against West Indies he picked up another hat-trick to become the first Indian bowler to pick up two. Incidentally, only five bowlers have in cricketing history have taken two hat-tricks. He has played 62 ODIs and picked up 105 wickets at an astonishing average of just 27 with an economy of 5.13. Kuldeep has also done well in the shorter T20 format where in 21 matches he took 39 wickets at a staggering average of just 13.76 with an economy of just 7.11.
But things have gone flat for Kuldeep since the 2019 IPL. I clearly remember the match in which Kuldeep was taken to the cleaners by RCBs Moeen Ali and he was literally in tears as he found the going tough.
In an interview, Kuldeep mentioned that he was in good rhythm playing for KKR in the 2020 season, played in the UAE, but did not get enough matches and hence did not get enough overs to bowl. He went on to say the last two years were the lowest point in his career.
Kuldeep is just 26 years old. He attained success at an early age of 23 for the national team and had an impact on his team’s success and in time players started picking him and attacking him, which brought his confidence down.
There was a time from 2017 middle to 2019 before IPL, Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal, who were fondly called "Kolcha", had made life miserable for batsmen around the world with classical wrist spin bowling.
When I saw him bowling in the ODI win over England in Pune, there was that spark in his eyes. He used to beat batsmen with the one ball that goes away - batsmen found it difficult to pick – and follow it up with a short ball which used to go for runs.
Kuldeep has just played six Test matches in nearly four years and was hoping for a comeback, especially against England in the home series, but Axar Patel had such a terrific series along with Ashwin and Washington Sundar’s successful batting ability made sure he did not get a chance.
Kuldeep says he has seen success and failure very early in his life and that he feels he understands things better now, but does he have a cool captain like MS Dhoni who had guided him well during his successful tenure? Who will be that mentor for young Kuldeep to bring back his confidence? He has got the talent and the temperament but to succeed at the highest level you also need a godfather.