Young chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav has been nothing short of a revelation ever since he made his debut for India in Test cricket. And what a debut it was! Kuldeep had a memorable debut with a four-wicket haul that negated Steve Smith’s defiant hundred on the opening day as India went on to win the match and claim the four-match Border-Gavaskar series against Australia in Dharamsala.
The 22-year-old repeated his antics in the limited-overs format as well. Kuldeep made his ODI and T20I debuts in the West Indies series and came out with flying colours. In the five-match ODI series which India won 3-1, Kuldeep ended up as the highest wicket-taker with 8 wickets, ahead of senior pro Ravichandran Ashwin (4 wickets). In the one-off T20I, Kuldeep picked up a single wicket.
Kuldeep's performance also earned him Kohli's respect. "When batsmen try to attack, he can slow his pace down, just beat the batsmen halfway into the pitch. So Kuldeep Yadav is quite amazing with what he does with the ball. I've faced him in the IPL as well, he's not easy to get away -- especially when the wicket is dry like it was today. He becomes even more lethal. Credit to him for putting in a performance like that in his first bowling performance in ODIs," Kohli had said in West Indies.
Now as India get ready to take on Sri Lanka in a full-fledged series, which includes three Tests, five ODIs and a T20I, Kuldeep just wants to continue to grow and evolve as a match-winner.
The left-arm wrist spinner, who has a bagful of variations including the flipper and the wrong'un, told India TV that there will be pressure on him to perform well in Sri Lanka but insisted that he will try to stick to his basics.
"Pressure is always there in every series. There's nothing new that I have planned for the Sri Lanka tour. I just want to stick to the basics," Kuldeep said.
Kuldeep wants to continue the hard work and hopes to excel if given an opportunity.
"Hopefully, I will do well. I performed well in the West Indies and I will try hard to repeat the same in Sri Lanka," Kuldeep added.
An young Indian side, under the captaincy of Kohli, toured Sri Lanka in 2015 where they played an exciting three-match Test series which they won 2-1 after losing the first Test. It was India's first Test series win on Sri Lankan soil in 22 years. The Indian team, which is currently the world No.1 Test side, will look to perform in the same manner this time around.
The first Test will start at Galle on July 26 followed by matches in Colombo and Kandy, respectively.
India squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Vice captain), Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (Wicketkeeper), Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, M Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Abhinav Mukund
India vs Sri Lanka Schedule
July 21-22: Warm-up match (Colombo)
July 26-30: 1st Test, Galle
Aug 3-7: 2nd Test Colombo
Aug 12-16: 3rd Test, Kandy
(With special inputs from India TV Sports Correspondent Vaibhav Bhola)