Durban: Left-arm wrist (chinaman) spinner Kuldeep Yadav has hailed the roles played by veteran wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and captain Virat Kohli in guiding youngsters like him.
“When you have two legends, Virat bhai and Mahi bhai– one is leading the team and the other has led the team — it is very helpful. As a spinner, Mahi bhai does 50 per cent of your work because he has played so much cricket, he is quick to read the batsmen,” Kuldeep said at the post-match press conference on Thursday after he helped India defeat South Africa by six wickets in the first One-Day International.
“We are youngsters and we don’t have that much experience. That is why he (Dhoni) keeps telling me what to do in what situation. And the mindset comes from the captain. Virat bhai always tells us one extra wicket is more important than trying to save 10 runs. If your captain tells you that, then you start believing in yourself,” he added.
Chasing a target of 270 runs, the Indians crossed the line in 45.3 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the six-match series.
Kuldeep had taken three for 34, while Yuzvendra Chahal bagged two wickets but South Africa rode on captain Faf du Plessis’ 120 to score 269/8.
“We bowled very well in the middle overs and we put them under pressure. If you bowl well on any wicket, it is very difficult to score runs. There was a partnership in the middle between Faf du Plessis and Chris Morris (37). If Morris had batted for a few more overs, they could have reached 290 or 300,” Kuldeep said.
“I felt I could get him (Morris) out and I took my chance. I always think if I try to bowl to contain, I will concede more runs.”
In reply, Kohli’s 112 and Ajinkya Rahane’s 79 propelled India to a six-wicket victory as they chased down the target with 4.3 overs to spare.
The Uttar Pradesh tweaker was unfazed by the challenge of bowling overseas. “It doesn’t matter where you are playing. Since childhood I have bowled on cement wickets. So that was tough wicket for me. Here the ball was turning, so it helped me.
“Whether you are playing in India or South Africa, it doesn’t matter to me. In my head the only thing is taking wickets for the team and this is Chahal’s plan as well when we are bowling as a pair.”