December 14, 1994, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
Left hand bat
Left arm wrist spin
Kuldeep Yadav started as a fast bowler when he first joined a cricket academy in Kanpur, but was asked by his coach Kapil Pandey to switch to something much rarer - left-arm wristspin. The change wasn't smooth - Kuldeep admitted that he had even tried once - but he soon realised bowling left-arm wristspin was the way forward for him. And he was good at it too, having not only solid control over the length, but also a potent wrong'un among his variations.
There haven't been too many bowlers of his ilk in India, and Kuldeep, therefore, attracted immediate attention after successful stints at the Under-19 level.
Kuldeep played his first India U-19 game in April 2012 as a 17-year old and and despite consistently taking wickets, he stayed below the radar. It was the 2014 edition of the U-19 World Cup in Dubai that pushed his stocks higher. After a wicketless spell in the opening game against Pakistan, Kuldeep picked up a hat-trick in the next game against Scotland. "As Kuldeep, mere ko wicket nikaalna hai (As Kuldeep, I knew I had to take wickets)," he said after the match.
He gained in stature in the games that followed, repeatedly troubling batsmen with his turn and finished with 14 wickets, the joint second-highest in the tournament. The performance seemed to justify why Kolkata Knight Riders' scouts had forked out $66,000 for him in the IPL auction prior to the Under-19 World Cup.
Kuldeep had been part of the Mumbai Indians set-up in the 2012 season where he had a fond memory of bamboozling Sachin Tendulkar once in the nets with his wrong'un. That did not translate into an IPL debut. Nor did it happen with Knight Riders in the 2014 season. He had to wait until the Champions League where, playing as a support bowler to Sunil Narine, he impressed with his economy. Following those performances, he was included in India's ODI squad for the series against West Indies in October 2014, and he made his first-class and List A debuts shortly after.
Having established himself in the Uttar Pradesh and India A sides, Kuldeep made his Test debut against Australia in a deciding match in Dharamsala in March 2017 and claimed 4 for 68 in the first innings.
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