Following India’s commanding 160-run victory over the Netherlands, securing a perfect record in the group stage, Kuldeep candidly shared his insights into the demanding nature of Wankhede.
“It is a difficult venue to bowl. The bounce is true, and batsmen often dominate there. Unlike in T20, of course, the bowlers have plenty of time to come back into the game. But yes, you need a couple of early wickets to get on top of the game and opponents,” he explained.
The semi-final will witness a replay of the 2019 encounter in Manchester, where New Zealand emerged victorious by 18 runs.
Kuldeep, however, downplayed the significance of past records, stating, “The 2019 semi-finals (against NZ) was four years ago. We have played a lot of bilateral series after that, so we know the conditions (in India) and so do they. Our preparation has been good, and we have been able to play good cricket throughout the tournament. So, we expect to continue in the same vein in the next match as well.”
Kuldeep has been a linchpin in India’s spin department, amassing 14 wickets from nine matches with an impressive economy rate of 4.15. Despite the pressures associated with a knockout match, he underscored the importance of focusing on his strengths and the process rather than being fixated on wickets.
“I just work on my rhythm and strengths and focus on how batsmen are trying to play me. My aim is to land the ball on the good length area as much as possible. I just keep focusing on the process rather than on wickets. Hopefully, it will work in the next match also,” he added.
Meanwhile, India’s fielding coach T Dilip lauded KL Rahul‘s exceptional performance since returning to top-flight cricket after a prolonged injury layoff. Dilip commended Rahul’s remarkable wicket-keeping skills and lateral movement, highlighting his excellence in taking low catches forward.
India vs Netherlands WC: India crush Netherlands by 160 runs
“He has been doing truly amazing wicket-keeping at present. He came from a long injury layoff, so, that was really challenging. But he came up really well. He’s someone who’s been doing wicket-keeping from a young age. So, that is not a problem. I’m quite happy the way he is moving laterally. And also, for his height, you can see that the low catches which he is taking forward are outstanding,” praised Dilip.
(With inputs from PTI)