Having warmed the bench of his former franchise Kolkata Knight Riders for the last two seasons, Kuldeep made a match-winning debut for Delhi Capitals, returning with 3 for 18 to be adjudged the Player-of-the-Match in their IPL-15 opener at the Brabourne.
“It’s all about the mindset. He was struggling in the IPL as his place was not secured for KKR. He was not sure whether he will play all their matches,” Axar said at the post-match media conference, when asked about the secret of Kuldeep’s turnaround.
“But he feels that surety of playing matches after coming over here. If you know your place is secured, and not that you have to perform in two matches otherwise you will be sacked from the team, then you can give your best.”
For his wonderful show with the ball, Kuldeep Yadav is the Player of the match 👌👌Well bowled @imkuldeep18 🙌… https://t.co/3cXAe75Vd2
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Kuldeeep was not picked for a single match last season and injury forced him out of the tournament.
In 2020, he was included in just five matches as the spinner went out of favour in KKR’s scheme of things with the arrival of Varun Chakravarthy.
Having joined KKR in the 2016 season, Kuldeep has overall played 45 matches for the franchise, taking 40 wickets at an average of 30.90.
WHAT. A. CHASE. 🔥🔥@DelhiCapitals register their first victory of the season in style!Scorecard -… https://t.co/5cPphpsnks
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But after being bought by Delhi for Rs 2 crore at the IPL mega auction, Kuldeep got an opportunity in the first game itself.
He made full use of the opportunity, dismissing the key batting duo of Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard to derail Mumbai in the middle overs.
Patel said their team think-tank led by Australian great Ricky Ponting has boosted his morale.
“The way (head coach) Ricky (Ponting), other coaches and the captain (Rishabh Pant) extended the support to him, he could give his best,” he said after Delhi recorded a stunning four-wicket win over Mumbai Indian here on Sunday.
“Even during the practice we tell him you can do well. It’s about that surety. He has got that mental shift that he will play all matches so he is able to give his best.”
Chasing 178, Delhi Capitals sealed the chase in 18.2 overs with Axar Patel (38 not out from 17 balls) and Lalit Yadav (48 not out; 38b) seizing the initiative after they were 72 for 5 inside 10 overs.
“We never lost hope, we knew we could bat deep. Ricky always said never give up hope, never thought we were out of the game. We just followed our instincts. On this wicket, you can always accelerate, so it was about taking the game deep,” Patel said.