The chinaman bowler said, “I had a strong feeling last year that we would win. Even in 2018, we were playing great cricket and I was sure we would win the title. I remember the match we lost against Sunrisers Hyderabad (in qualifier 2). I was out of the ground because my spell was over. They were on 125 and I thought they would not go beyond 145. But Rashid Khan came into the middle and changed the game. We were just one step away from entering the final. It was a heart-breaking moment when we lost the match.”
When asked about the difference between leg spin and chinaman bowling, Kuldeep said,“If you have noticed, I mostly practice against right-handed batsmen. Because for me it is easy to bowl to a left-hand batsman. When a right-handed batsman bats, my variations are mostly wrong’un, top spin, flipper or googly. If you are playing T20, slogging leg spin gets really easy. If it’s a left-handed batsman, a leg-spinner mostly uses googly and not regular leg spin. I guess the variations I spoke about work wonderfully well in T20 cricket, but if you consider international or domestic cricket, leg spin is still very effective.”
“When I went for a few trials in my childhood in Kanpur. I often used to wonder why chinaman bowling is so different that no one even tries! There were over 250 aspirants and only 40-50 players would be picked for the camp. Someone at the trials told me to bowl left-arm finger spin instead of chinaman and I followed that,” he said
“My coach was noticing everything and when I went up to him, he asked, “Why didn’t you bowl?”. I was baffled. He told me that I didn’t bowl the way I was supposed to. He could see the writing on the wall that I would not be selected. That came out true! I was upset but he started showing me Shane Warne videos and asked me to follow his bowling style. I have troubled my coach a lot but even now I correct my bowling looking at Warne’s videos. It was only this time when I realised how difficult and unique chinaman bowling was. Brad Hogg (former KKR player) was one of the players back then whom I used to watch. But I always felt, if I could spin like Warne, that would create the difference,” Kuldeep said.
While talking about ODIs, you got a hat-trick at Eden Gardens, Kuldeep said, “I don’t think you can ever take a hat-trick in a planned way. Honestly, I didn’t dream of taking a hat-trick. Eden had become my home ground by this time. I remember I bowled the first few overs and I wasn’t comfortable bowling in half t-shirts. So, I went back to the dressing room and changed into my full-sleeve jersey. I spoke to Virat bhai and asked him if I could bowl from the other end. He said once Chahal’s spell was over, I could bowl from that end. I struck a very good rhythm and started bowling in the spot.
“I got my first wicket of Matthew Wade and then in the next ball I plucked Ashton Agar. For the third ball, I asked Mahi bhai (MS Dhoni) what to bowl. When you have so many variations, you get confused. He just let me do whatever I felt was right but suggested that I kept it to the stumps. I kept a slip and gully in place. Luckily I bowled a good ball and got the edge. Getting a hat-trick at Eden Garden, that too in the first year of international cricket, is a big thing and this was one of the biggest moments of my life,” he said.
“For the second hat-trick, you might not believe me, but I had told my mom that day that I would take a hat-trick. A lot of times, what I said turned out true. I guess it was just a random moment when we were batting against the Windies that I just realised I would take a hat-trick. Things panned out just the way I had planned,” Kuldeep added. (UNI)