Kuldeep faced a setback last year, injuring his knee at the IPL and undergoing surgery in September. That kept him out of action for several months. He also suffered a hairline fracture in his wrist this year, which forced him out of India’s T20I series against South Africa in June, as the white-ball tours of Ireland and England that followed. The time away from the game helped him work on his rhythm, Kuldeep said, and this helped him come back stronger.
“I did not know how to cope with not getting enough game time,” he said after today’s match. “After the [knee] injury layoff of four months, I realised that I need to bowl quicker and began working on it. I am not afraid of failures now. When you fail, you learn. When I came back to the Indian side in January, I was not afraid of failure. I wanted to enjoy the game. My focus is to keep hitting the good lengths. [Getting] wickets is not in my hands, I just want to bowl in good areas.
“To be honest, when I got injured, coming back from there, understanding my rhythm was very important. I was a little bit slow. After surgery, I have changed that rhythm, bowling with more effort and more control.”
He featured in just one ODI against West Indies and one T20I against Sri Lanka, though, before the wrist issue dragged him back again. After that, he played white-ball games for India in the West Indies and Zimbabwe in August, before the New Zealand A challenge.
“Coming back, I was bowling well in the IPL [this year] before I got hit in the nets and was out for two months.
“[Later] in the West Indies, I bowled really well, and in Zimbabwe as well. Accuracy and speed were phenomenal. Then coming back, I’ve played red ball [against New Zealand A]. I’ve [also] played two [one-day] games here, in the first game also the control was beautiful. I am very happy.”
Kuldeep said the injuries and subsequent recovery process made him understand himself and his body better. “When you keep playing, you learn. You want to play more games but that could not happen. I actually didn’t know how to cope with it.
“The injury was lucky for me. I could understand my body and on the comeback, began thinking about my rhythm. It is challenging but you have to see the other part as well… It is always tough playing for India.”