Team India's Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav seems to have had more fun on the South African wickets as compared to the ones on his home soil. The 23-year-old had a gala time on the recent tour of the Rainbow Nation as he collected 17 wickets in the six-match ODI series, which the Men in Blue comfortably won 5-1.
Spin twins Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal have ousted Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja from the limited-overs teams with their splendid and consistent performances. The duo's performance in the recently concluded South Africa tour has driven the Proteas batsmen wild as their spells had the power-hitters dancing to their tunes, together amassing a total of 33 wickets in six ODIs.
In an exclusive interview with India TV, Kuldeep Yadav spoke about how much fun he had bowling in the South Africa conditions. Once Kuldeep bowled the first ball, he knew what he had to do and then he was simply unstoppable.
"I enjoyed bowling in South Africa. In fact, I had more fun on the Proteas wickets than India's as the wickets have bounce, sharp turns and which wasn't easy for the batsmen to face on a backfoot," said Kuldeep.
The Chinaman said that he was nervous but excited at the same time and immediately went on to bamboozle and befuddle the Proteas batsmen to collect 17 wickets in the six ODIs he played.
Kuldeep's spin partner Chahal, who himself had the first crack on the South African wickets, told the Chinaman about the track which intrigued the spinner to have a go at the batsmen.
"I was nervous yet excited at the same time as we didn't get much to learn on the practice wicket and Chahal told me later during the match that the wicket has a sharp turn. I immediately knew where to bowl. I kept my length and had the first good over on the South Africa wicket, which I highly enjoyed. India's wicket is slower and the batsmen know how to counter those deliveries, I had enjoyed the South African wicket more".
The spinners have created havoc in South Africa and will now shift their focus on the Indian Premier League as Kuldeep will be playing for the Dinesh Karthik-led Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), whereas Chahal will be playing alongside Team India skipper Virat Kohli in Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
Kuldeep said that the third and final Test against South Africa at Johannesburg was the best Test match he has ever witnessed.
"We were present at the time when Team India were playing in the New Wanderers and the atmosphere was spectacular. The way the team fought back was unbelievable. Despite the controversies that surrounded the wicket conditions, the team was calm and composed. The fighting spirit inspired us, and I could say that it is one of the best Test matches I have ever witnessed in my entire life," Kuldeep said, referring to the third Test that India won to avoid the whitewash.
After losing the first two Tests, India bounced back to win the third match and from there on they destroyed the Aiden Makram-led Proteas side in the ODIs and also in the T20Is.
Kuldeep lauded Kohli for his leadership qualities and mentioned that Kohli has always had a winning mentality, which makes him standout from the others.
"We were motivated by their performance. Virat bhai always tells us that now that we have come here, we have come to win," he said.
On the eve of the deciding T20I match in South Africa, Kuldeep shared what the Team India head coach Ravi Shastri had to say as all the pressure boiled down to the match at Newlands Cape Town.
"Shastri told us to enjoy the last three hours of the tour. The atmosphere was normal, and we didn't even know that Kohli was injured during the 3rd T20I and we weren't that affected. It was a shock, but Rohit was there to handle the situation," he added.
Kuldeep's performance in his first overseas tour is an indication of what's more to come as India will travel to England for three T20Is, three ODIs and five Test matches in July this year.
"It was my first overseas tour and it was the best for me. We played very well. We'll go and defeat England and Australia as well.
Kuldeep who has been left out of the 2018 Nidahas Trophy due to a finger injury, will shift his focus onto the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League, which starts from April 7.