Since taking over the captaincy of the Indian cricket team from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, talismanic skipper Virat Kohli has been compared to his predecessor on almost a regular basis.India’s Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav spoke with Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview and talked about the role he feels Kohli is playing in grooming youngsters, including him, in the team.
“If you are young and your captain is backing you every time on the field and off the field as well, it gives you extra motivation to perform. Virat bhai supports me on and off the field. He supports me in tough situations as well. Virat bhai is someone who knows how a bowler feels. He comes to you and guides you where to bowl. He will come, pat you on the back, guide you, gives you a solution and helps you take a wicket,” Kuldeep said.
“There is no doubt he (Virat) is a world-class player. Be it his batting, fielding or decision-making abilities, Virat bhai is unmatchable,” Kuldeep told TimesofIndia.com.But the absence of MS Dhoni behind the stumps is definitely being felt.It has been more than a year since the fans have witnessed Dhoni in action. Dhoni last played in international colours in the ICC World Cup 2019 semi-final against New Zealand and has been out-of-action since then.
“We all are missing Mahi bhai. I am a big fan of Mahi bhai. I really want him to come back into the team soon and play. Personally, I really feel he should play for India again,” the 25 yer old spinner said.
Kuldeep, who has played 6 Tests, 60 ODIs and 21 T20Is for India so far, recalled how Dhoni used to react, after he conceded a four or a six, during a match. The young spinner is missing the ‘behind the stumps’ advice from the 2011 World Cup winning captain.“Whenever we stepped onto the field, Mahi bhai would come up with some instant advice. That (kind of) advice helped me a lot in my career.
He is a great instant advisor. He is someone who doesn’t believe giving advice ahead of and after the game. He will analyse things and come up with instant advice on the field. That’s what Virat bhai does as well. Mahi bhai is an instant advisor, Virat bhai is a great motivator. Apart from these two, Rohit bhai also guided me a lot on many occasions. I am really grateful that I am playing under seniors like Virat, Dhoni and Rohit,” Kuldeep said.Kuldeep, who made his ODI and T20I debut under Kohli’s captaincy against the West Indies in 2017, also described how Kohli motivates him, when he has a bad day at the office.
“Sometimes, a bowler has an off day (bad day) and Virat bhai knows what a bowler goes through. That’s because of his captaincy experience. Before the senior team, he had captained the Under-19 team and the Ranji team as well. He pushes me to do better and motivates me. Not just me, he does that with every bowler in the team,” the 25-year-old Chinaman bowler said.
“For any youngster, if his captain is backing you, that’s a big plus point. Be it me, Yuzi (Yuzvendra Chahal) or Jasprit Bumrah, we all know our roles and we know that our captain is backing us. Many times, Virat bhai would understand what I am going through from my body language during a match. He comes over and gives an immediate solution,” Kuldeep signed off.