1st ODI: Rahul Dravid backed me a lot, he told me to just enjoy my bowling, says wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav

Left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav heaped praise on Rahul Dravid, India’s coach, for the ongoing white-ball series against Sri Lanka. Kuldeep admitted he was very nervous before the first ODI, but Rahul Dravid’s motivation helped him to stay focused.

India’s left-arm wrist-spinner, Kuldeep Yadav, who was playing after a long time, admitted that he was very nervous before the first ODI match against Sri Lanka in Colombo. India thumped Sri Lanka by seven wickets in a comprehensive manner to start the white-ball series.

“You’re definitely nervous if you play cricket after so long, and you want to perform well,” Kuldeep said during the post-match press conference.

“Rahul (Dravid) sir backed me a lot and motivated me. We spoke a lot, and he told me that I should just enjoy bowling, focus on the processes that we have worked on in the last 15 days, and don’t be tense about the result. I’m very happy that my performance was good,” said Kuldeep.

Kuldeep’s return of 2 for 48 must have given him the much-needed confidence after being taken to the cleaner in his last ODI outing by Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes against England.

“As a bowler, you are supposed to get hit for runs, but other times you get wickets too. I have taken three-four wickets often, taken five-six wickets too,” Yadav said.

“If people talk about my wickets, it’ll be nicer. Nobody’s career is finished after one game or two games. I think the last series was good for England because the pitches were very good in Pune. Spinners didn’t get much help. It sometimes happens, and the pitch is not in your favour. But sometimes you should credit the batsmen too for batting well, rather than say someone’s cricket is finished,” said Kuldeep.

Return of ‘Kulcha’

Kuldeep was again paired with Yuzvendra Chahal after a long time in the first ODI. The pair, who could do no wrong till the 2019 World Cup, are both on borrowed time right now, and it was a perfect start for the duo to reclaim their position in the playing XI.

“I’m very happy that we both got to play together after quite some time,” said Kuldeep.

“I think we’re comfortable with each other and back each other. Whenever it is needed on the field, I tell him something or he tells me things. Our bonding is good. Our performance was quite good, and the way we did well, was good for the team,” said the 26-year-old.

On India’s squad being called second-string side

Kuldeep Yadav said that winning by seven wickets with 80 balls remaining was a perfect reply to the former Sri Lanka skipper, who called the Shikhar Dhawan-led India side a second-string Indian squad.

“We don’t need to answer anybody. We just need to focus on our jobs,” said Kuldeep.

“We have come here to play cricket. We’re really lucky that we’re getting to play cricket in this situation. Our focus is on our team and on how we can perform well in six matches because we have a lot of youngsters.

Who says what are their thoughts. We should focus on ourselves and enjoy our cricket,” added Kuldeep.

India will play the second ODI on Tuesday at the same venue.