When Kuldeep Yadav came in to bowl the 18th over against Delhi Capitals at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Saturday night, the hosts were ready to seal a thumping victory, needing 18 runs in as many balls and eight wickets still in hand.
The match situation, his previous two overs where he was hammered all over the park for 33 runs and not even a single wicket in this edition of the tournament so far – it couldn’t have got more challenging for Yadav.
What followed next was a game-changing spell. Three runs and a wicket – of Rishabh Pant – came off next six balls. In the final over, Delhi required six off six and Yadav defended that too, taking the game to Super Over, the first of this edition.
“When I came in to bowl the last over, I was sure that I won’t let Delhi Capitals get those six runs needed for a win. Wo mere liye bahut the (it was more than enough for me to defend) as I knew I won’t give a boundary and maybe allow them only a one or two,” Kuldeep told Aaj Tak in an interview.
“I wanted to spin it as much as possible and bowl two-three dot balls to put the pressure on the batsmen. We would have won the match easily had the target for them been 8 or 9 runs,” he added.
It wasn’t easy, especially after a forgettable start.
“I could not perform well in the first two overs that I bowled. Things didn’t go as per my plan. I was trying too hard to take a wicket and instead went for 33 runs as the execution of my plan failed,” said Yadav.
“It was difficult to make a comeback after that but in my second spell, I was more confident about the line I wanted to bowl. I just did that because of which match went to the super over. I had faith in my ability and knew I could defend it,” he Yadav.
However, Kolkata Knight Riders lost the match in the Super Over, their first defeat of the season.
“It was unfortunate to lose the match against Delhi but we really fought well, right till the end. There is some great atmosphere in the team right now and we are playing good cricket. The combinations are working and we have won two good games against Hyderabad and Punjab. I think we will keep doing well if we continue to play in this manner.”
Going for wickets, even if it means proving to be expensive at times, has been the 24-year-old’s mantra for long now.
“I always try to take wickets but in the IPL many times you go for runs too. As a bowler one wonders what wrong has been committed. Options of bowling dot balls or going into a defensive mode come to your mind. Last night too, Delhi were in such a comfortable situation. They would have won easily had wickets not fallen,” said Yadav.
“After losing two wickets, they were on the backfoot immediately. You need to keep on planning in this format, on such a big stage like IPL because game changes quickly. Batsmen play spin really well and even the grounds are small,” Yadav said.
“It is very difficult for the bowlers but you have to overcome everything and perform well. That is the reason why I came around the wicket in the last over as I was getting a good angle to spin the ball. It’s all about planning, especially after being hit for so many runs in the first two overs. Making a comeback wasn’t that easy,” he added.