Wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav has said he had major doubts about his bowling over the past couple of years as he didn’t get much game-time with the Indian team.

In an interview with The Indian Express, Kuldeep said there were times when he thought he isn’t the bowler he once was and even felt satisfied sitting on the bench.

It’s been a difficult phase for the 26-year-old. He played just one Test and two ODIs for India over the past six months, wasn’t picked in the playing XI by KKR in the first half of IPL 2021, was downgraded in the BCCI annual contract list, and hasn’t been selected in the 20-member squad for the upcoming England tour.

“I did, sometimes (have doubts). I felt ‘what is going on?’. It was a difficult time. Sometimes, the mind says, ‘ab shayad woh Kuldeep nahi rahe’ (Perhaps, I am not the same Kuldeep). Sometimes I feel, ‘no, I am still the same’ and I wait for the opportunity,” he was quoted as saying.

“There were days when you feel serving drinks and being on the bench is for the best – yaar yeh to best seat hai apne liye – and then but there are days you don’t want to be in that place. I would think, I should have been there playing. I tried to motivate myself every time. I try to be happy and feel that I am bowling well. There was self-doubt somewhere. It happens with everyone, I started questioning myself.”

Kuldeep spoke about how the first half of IPL 2021 was especially tough for him, as he didn’t get to play in any of the seven games involving KKR.

“I was (depressed) especially when I didn’t find a place in my IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders. I wondered, ‘am I that bad?’ It’s a team-management decision and it would be wrong to go and ask them. I wasn’t played in Chennai during the IPL despite knowing it’s a turner. I was a bit shocked but couldn’t do anything. The bio-bubble life has also thrown challenges for everyone. When I am not playing, nothing looks nice,” said Kuldeep.

The left-arm wrist spinner also said there are times he missed the guidance of former India captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

“Sometimes I miss that guidance because he (Dhoni) has great experience. He used to guide us behind the wicket, kept screaming! We miss his experience. Rishabh (Pant) is there now, the more he plays, the more input he will give in the future. I always felt every bowler needs a partner who can respond from the other end,” said Kuldeep.

“When Mahi bhai was there, I and (Yuzvendra) Chahal were playing. Ever since Mahi bhai left, Chahal and I haven’t played together. I played only a handful of games after Mahi bhai left. I must have played ten-odd games. I had even taken a hat-trick. If you look at the performance as a whole, it will look pretty decent but if one breaks it up then my performance sometimes can look not up to the mark. One has to also look at the opposition we are playing against.”

Read Kuldeep Yadav’s full interview with The Indian Express here.