A left-arm arm chinaman bowler is a very rare breed in cricket and a hard skill to execute on the field. Kuldeep Yadav is one such player who has mastered this art and has improved over time. He has different variations with a lethal googly, which batters find difficult to pick. When he was young, he wanted to be a fast bowler, but his coach, Kapil Pandey, looking at his small build, asked him to change to left-arm wrist spin, and once he tried that, he knew this was for him. He impressed with different variations and turns, which impressed his coach, and after that, Yadav started watching videos of Shane Warne to learn more and made him his role model. At the age of 17, he played his first U-19 game for India in 2012. However, it was at the 2014 U-19 World Cup that he made his mark and announced himself to the world. He became the first Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in the history of the tournament and finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker of the competition with 14 wickets. This caught the eye of the selectors and was enough to earn him an Indian T20 League contract. He made his first-class debut for the North Zone, where he picked up three wickets in the first innings and also scored a fifty in the second. He played his first List A game for Uttar Pradesh in the same year as well. Yadav continued to deliver the goods consistently, and in 2017, he registered 17 scalps in three games in the Duleep Trophy and helped his side reach the final, which was a phenomenal achievement. Despite getting limited opportunities, his stocks continued to rise, and a national call-up seemed just around the corner.
Yadav finally got the opportunity in the home Tests against Australia in 2017. Anil Kumble handed him the coveted Test cap. He troubled the Aussies batters, as they were surprised by this selection and ended up with four wickets in the first innings. He did not have to wait long as he played his first ODI in the same year against West Indies but couldn't bowl as rain played spoilsport. He made his T20I debut on the same tour as well. However, he ended the tour as the joint-leading wicket-taker but was shockingly dropped from the first three ODIs against Sri Lanka. Yadav made a return in the last two games and the subsequent series against Australia, where he showed that dropping him was a mistake. He took a hat-trick against the Aussies and became the third bowler to achieve this feat in this format after Kapil Dev and Chetan Sharma. In 2018, he registered his first five-wicket haul in a T20I while playing against England. He became the first left-arm wrist spinner to do so. In the same tour, he took his maiden ODI five-wicket haul as well and set a new record for registering the best bowling figures by a left-arm spinner of any kind in an ODI (6/25). In the process, he broke Shahid Afridi's record of best figures in an ODI against England. Yadav followed this up with a five-for in the Test against West Indies. In 2019, in his first Test on Australian soil, he registered his second five-wicket haul and not soon after took a hat-trick against West Indies to become the first Indian bowler to take two hat-tricks in ODIs. His partnership with Chahal for India, which is also known as "Kul-Cha," ran havoc and destroyed top batting orders around the world. However, he suffered a dip in form in the next few years and lost his starting place for Kolkata in the Indian T20 League, and he also did not get that many chances to play for India. He felt disheartened but worked hard and never gave up. He increased his bowling speed and learned some new variations, which got him back in the mix. In 2022, he made a brilliant comeback in Tests against Bangladesh, where he scored 40 runs in the first innings and followed it up with a five-for. He finished with eight wickets in the match and was awarded the player of the match. He also played in the 2023 tour of Sri Lanka and New Zealand, picking up wickets whenever the team needed them. Yadav has turned his fortunes around and is a crucial part of the national team.
Yadav was added to the Mumbai team for the Indian T20 League in 2012 but couldn't get any games, even though he made headlines for bamboozling Sachin Tendulkar with a googly in the nets. He was signed by Kolkata in 2014, but he was unable to make his debut in the Indian T20 League. He did, however, play in the Champions Trophy. He played as a support to Sunil Narine, but his economical bowling caught the eye of the coaching staff. In 2016, he took six wickets in three games as his game time was limited due to the presence of Brad Hogg, another left-arm chinaman. However, in 2017, he was given freedom and picked up 12 wickets in 12 games. The duo of Narine and Yadav troubled every team in the league. The following season, he registered 17 scalps in 16 games. However, after that, he went through a dry period and also fell out of favor with Kolkata. Although he remained with them until 2021, he could not make a significant impact. In 2021, Rajasthan bought him, but he did not play. Delhi selected him for the 2022 season, where he enjoyed his best season in the tournament, picking up 21 wickets in 14 games. This made Delhi retain him for the next season. Yadav is the perfect example of how hard work always pays off. He was in a dark hole but decided to work on himself and become better. He did that successfully to silence his critics and will be a key asset for India in the near future.