Kuldeep celebrates his hat-trick at the Eden Gardens Image: AFP
Kuldeep Yadav's maiden outing at the Eden Gardens in India colours was nothing short of a dream. The chinaman bowler bagged a rare hat-trick to sentence Australia to a 50-run defeat in the 2nd ODI on Thursday and the 22-year-old had none other than former India captain MS Dhoni to thank for his incredible spell.
In the post-match press conference, the proud youngster said Dhoni's comments egged him on before he delivered the crucial delivery to Pat Cummins that brought about his hat-trick.
Recalling the moments when he was about to let go the all-important delivery, Kuldeep said he asked wicketkeeper Dhoni how he should bowl.
"I asked Mahi bhai, what should I bowl. He said 'tujhe jaisa bhi lagta hai, woh daal (bowl the way you want to)'. I was very happy that he backed me," Yadav said after the match, where he became only the third Indian to get a hat-trick in ODIs.
In three successive deliveries, Kuldeep (3/54) picked up Mathew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins in the 33rd over to emulate the feats of compatriots Chetan Sharma (1987) and Kapil Dev (1991).
This isn't the first time we have seen Mahi dish out valuable encouragement and tips from behind the wickets. The 35-year-old could be heard guiding Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal in the first ODI at Chennai too.
Incidentally, Kapil's hat-trick was the only ODI hat-trick at the Eden until Kuldeep joined him on Thursday.
Kuldeep, who also thanked skipper Virat Kohli for supporting him, had earlier taken a hat-trick for India in the under-19 World Cup in 2014 against Scottland.
But he rated the one at the Eden Gardens as special as it helped fashion a 50-run win for India, who now lead the five-match ODI series 2-0.
"This is very special for me. That really changed the game for us. It was a proud moment," he said.
Kuldeep conceded that he was struggling with the leather in the first five overs. "The first five overs I was struggling to bowl in a particular area, but later on I got the spot, and the rest is history," added the youngster.
It was also a story of contrast for Kuldeep, who had been smacked for three consecutive sixes by Glenn Maxwell in the series opener at Chennai four days ago.
"In the game of cricket, everything happens. And in the last game, I got hit three sixes in an over," he said.
India rode on a 92 by skipper Virat Kohli and a 55 by Ajinkya Rhane to post a competitive 252 on the board for the Aussies and followed it up with a brilliant bowling display by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya and, of course, Kuldeep.
(With inputs from IANS)