Brad Hogg does know a thing or two about Kuldeep Yadav, his former Kolkata Knight Riders teammate. A left-arm Chinaman himself, the former Australia spinner does acknowledge that Kuldeep looks much sharper this year.
Yet, he believes the 28-yearold cannot be a certainty in India’s XI all the time.
“If you look at the Indian team in this (Bangladesh) series, they have got two spinners in the form of (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Axar) Patel who can handle the batting as well. Then they can play two fast bowlers and also have that extra variety in Kuldeep. But if the two spinners (Ashwin and Axar) weren’t able to bat as well as they did, India would probably have to go in with a different make-up of the team, and then Kuldeep might miss out.
“For me, it’s great to have Kuldeep and expose him to conditions that are going to be better for a bowler of his type. But I can’t see him being in the XI consistently because of the dominance of Patel, Ashwin and even (Ravindra) Jadeja with both the bat and ball.
“If Kuldeep can bat as well as Patel or Ashwin, he might have a chance of pushing his way in front of them,” Hogg, commentating in the ongoing India-Bangladesh Test series, told The Telegraph in an interaction facilitated by Sony on Wednesday. Starring with a match-haul of eight wickets in the first Test in Chittagong, Kuldeep should be able to fare even better in the second and final Test in Mirpur, Hogg believes.
“He’s a lot more side-on, not falling away as he used to and is going towards the target a lot more.
“So the body is in better alignment and that’s allowing Kuldeep to come over with a higher-arm action and plenty more revolutions on the ball,” Hogg, who played seven Tests,123 ODIs and 15 T20Is, said.
“In Chittagong, he was probably at his best in the first innings, though I think he might have fallen away in the second just because of that little lack of fitness, which is due to the injuries that he has had. That was his first run in Test cricket for a while. In Mirpur, he should be better.”
Kuldeep’s fellow left-arm spinner, Axar, too did well in Chittagong, taking four wickets in the second innings.
In Asian conditions, Axar is surely an asset to the team. But his red-ball performance outside, Axar hasn’t been tested yet.
“Watching him (Axar) from close while he’s doing the warm-ups, he is in good shape, uses his height well, is very crafty and gets a lot of drop on the ball. But there’s probably one thing that needs work — that is trying to get a bit more drift in the air. Yes, he gets the drop, but it’s more the drift that he might need to succeed more in the western conditions,” Hogg explained.