Kuldeep Yadav, all of 19 years, has seen a lot happening his life. The Kanpur lad, who started off as a fast bowler, was one day asked by his coach to try that mysterious form made famous by the South African Paul Adams -- Chinaman (usually leg spins bowled by a left-arm spinner). After the initial toil, sweat, and even tears, Yadav finds himself to be one of the most talked-about young cricketers in the country today.
From Sunil Gavaskar to Sourav Ganguly to MS Dhoni, some of the sharpest brains in Indian cricket are seemingly excited with what the the young man can bring to the table. For someone, who has not even played Ranji Trophy yet, Yadav has come a long way after first appearing for Uttar Pradesh in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, a T20 tournament in March this year, where he finished with eight wickets from four matches. (Kuldeep Yadav can be Match-Winner in Tests: Gavaskar)
His biggest international achievement has been the hat-trick against Scotland in the U-19 World Cup in Dubai earlier this year. After going wicketless in the opening game against Pakistan, that was the boost Yadav needed and he finished the tournament with 14 wickets, joint second-highest on the list. Critics, who had raised their eyebrows, when Kolkata Knight Riders dished out USD 66,00 for him before the U1-9 World Cup, were silenced.
Yadav then went on to make a strong impact in the Champions League Twenty20 for Kolkata Knight Riders, holding his in a spin attack comprising Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla. He has a total experience of nine T20s, including five for the Knight Riders in the CLT20, where he picked up six wickets. The teenager was rewarded for his consistent show when India selectors picked him for the first three ODIs against the West Indies.
Yadav was not considered in the playing XI at Kochi as Dhoni preferred the experience of Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja, but there is no denying that the young man is on the brink of his big break.
He may or may not get a game in the five-match ODI series, but Yadav will benefit immensely from this exposure in the Indian dressing-room and Gavaskar hopes the experience will hold the youngster in good stead for the future. The former India captain feels the chinaman bowler has the right attitude to become a Test bowler.
"I will keep my eyes on Kuldeep Yadav. He has been the find of the Champions League T20. What has been impressive is his ability to comeback after being hit for runs. So far he has shown he is not afraid to come back and toss the ball up again," Gavaskar told NDTV, adding, "Hopefully he will get the right kind of advice in the Indian dressing room."
With friendly colleagues like Dhoni, Mishra, Jadeja and Virat Kohliaround, Yadav will learn a lot during training sessions. The greatest help could come from team director Ravi Shastri, whose massive experience and words of wisdom can be priceless.
Yadav bowls without fear and has variety up his sleeves. A new generation spinner, he is not scared to give the extra flight even with the field up. He has the makings of a champion bowler.
Ganguly, another former India captain, felt the selectors made a brave decision by including Yadav in the 14-member side against the West Indies. Ganguly believes the chinaman bowler will do well.
"No doubt it's a brave decision, but he is a good wrist spinner and he will do well," Ganguly told a cricket website.
Patience will be key for this young man. With age on his side, Yadav's main job will be to use his rare skills and pick wickets. Nothing speaks better than figures. So far, Yadav is on the right course and if the selectors continue to believe in him, sky can be the limit.