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‘Management’s call’ behind Kuldeep Yadav's axe

Dropping a Man of the Match, that’s unbelievable, says Sunil Gavaskar
Kuldeep Yadav during the first India-Bangladesh Test.
Kuldeep Yadav during the first India-Bangladesh Test.

A Staff Reporter   |   Calcutta   |   Published 23.12.22, 04:59 AM

Kuldeep Yadav was the Man of the Match in the first Test in Chittagong, where India beat Bangladesh by 188 runs.  And how has he been rewarded? By being dropped from the playing XI of the second and final Test in Mirpur that began on Thursday. 

The left-arm wrist-spinner, making his Test comeback after 22 months in Chittagong, finished with the best match figures (8 for 113) among India’s bowlers. If not for his five-for in the first innings on a flat track in Chittagong, India’s bid to win that Test would have got increasingly difficult as Bangladesh scored 324, more than double their first-innings total of 150, in their second essay.


Stand-in captain KL Rahul tried to explain the logic behind Kuldeep’s exclusion although he had to admit it was a “hard decision” on the left-armer. “Hard decision on Kuldeep, but we know (Ravichandran) Ashwin and Axar (Patel) can find spin. While we have brought in Jaydev (Unadkat) to cover all bases,” Rahul said at the toss.

The Mirpur wicket does have a little more bounce than the one in the previous Test and was a bit damp in the morning. But couldn’t India have benched Axar instead of axing someone who bowled a decisive spell in his comeback Test? Wouldn’t it be demoralising for Kuldeep, especially after the hard work that he had put in?

“Dropping a Man of the Match, that’s unbelievable,” Sunil Gavaskar remarked. “That’s the only word I can use, and it’s a gentle word.

“I would like to use quite stronger words, but it’s unbelievable that you left out a Man of the Match, who got eight out of the 20 wickets,” Gavaskar told the official broadcasters.

“You have got two other spinners. So surely, one of the other spinners could have been dropped.

“But this guy (Kuldeep) who took eight wickets should have played with due respect to what the pitch looks like,” the former India captain added.

Bangladesh were all out for 227 in their first innings after opting to bat first, and six of those 10 wickets were picked up by the fast bowlers. Senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took four and so did pacer Umesh Yadav, while left-arm quick Unadkat  — Kuldeep’s replacement  — struck twice.

Unadkat, 31, had to wait for his maiden Test wicket for more than a decade after making his debut way back in December 2010.

“Even Karun Nair got no chance after hitting a triple century (versus England in the 2016-17 season). These things aren’t new, but yes, for someone who’s making a comeback after almost two years, getting such a treatment could well be demoralising,” agreed a former national selector. 

“Kuldeep is used to these things though. He needs to go through the grind again and keep working hard to regain his place in the XI,” he added.

Besides, Nair’s 303 not out came in an inconsequential Test with India already having sealed the series. Kuldeep’s case was completely different.

Umesh, too, tried to explain the reason behind Kuldeep’s ouster from the XI. “It’s the team and the management’s call, because sometimes you have to go with the requirement of the team, after seeing the wicket,” Umesh said at the news conference later.

“It is part of the journey and has happened with me also. Sometimes you are performing and then sitting out of the team. But as I said, this is a team management call.

“It’s good for him (Kuldeep) that he came back and performed well in the previousTest,” Umesh added.

Bangladesh were quite surprised to see Kuldeep’somission. “We might not have read the wicket very well (in Mirpur), but we also didn’t read Kuldeep very well (in Chittagong). We are surprised that he didn’t play,” batting coach James Siddons said.“It’s turning and bouncing for the spinners, so it’s harder against them. Ashwin got some unbelievable bounce and spin.”

Head coach Rahul Dravid, an experienced cricket brain, must have his logic behind such a move, it’s just that few are being able to comprehend it.  

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