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Test cricket: Kuldeep Yadav rediscovers his craft

Kapil Pandey says it’s the rhythm of 28-year-old and his focus on maintaining right length that has helped turn odds in his favour

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 20.12.22, 06:17 AM
Kuldeep Yadav.

Kuldeep Yadav. File picture

Poor, indifferent form is something that’s ephemeral as a quality bowler will always find a way out of it. Doubters were getting ready to write Kuldeep Yadav off after he fell off the radar due to a string of disappointing performances and injuries. But 2022 does appear to be his turnaround year.

A successful IPL, where he took 21 wickets in 14 games for Delhi Capitals, was followed by a consistent showing for India A in three one-dayers against a visiting New Zealand A. The left-arm wrist-spinner was back in the discussion with impressive, disciplined performances against South Africa in the three-ODI series last October, finishing with six scalps.


And then came the Test recall, and Kuldeep ensured he struck in his comeback game. Match figures of 8 for 113 (5 for 40 and 3 for 73) were pivotal to India’s 188-run win over Bangladesh in the first Test in Chittagong.

Agreed, Bangladesh aren’t among the top-ranked teams and how seriously they regard red-ball cricket is also another question. But it does take a lot of effort and will power from a bowler to put in a match-winning performance, especially in his first Test appearance after 22 months.

That too, on a track on the flatter side, where even a spinner of the calibre of Ravichandran Ashwin took just one wicket bowling 37 overs across both innings.

The variations appear to be coming back fast for Kuldeep. Alongside bowling with a lot of control, which he too has spoken about, Kuldeep got a fair bit of drift and dip to bamboozle the Bangladesh batters en route to his third five-for in Test cricket.

According to Kuldeep’s personal coach Kapil Pandey, it’s the rhythm of the 28-yearold and his focus on maintaining the right length that has helped turn the odds in his favour.

“Before he left for Bangladesh, I kept on telling him the need to maintain his rhythm as that’s crucial for him,” Pandey said on Monday.

“He’s mixing it well now with the chinaman, sliders and the straighter ones. More importantly, he’s being able to read the batsman’s mind.

“Also, if he can take five wickets against Australia in Sydney (in January 2019), why can’t he be successful in Bangladesh where spinners get more assistance? That’s exactly what I had told him before this Test match,” Pandey added.

The Chittagong wicket wasn’t really a square turner. Yet Kuldeep got enough amount of turn to make matters harder for the rival batters.

“The advantage of wrist-spinners is, they have this natural ability to get adequate turn on any wicket,” pointed out Maninder Singh, a former India left-arm spinner who’s also commentating in the ongoing Test series.

“Kuldeep looks to have got back that bounce in his stride with a proper follow-through. Besides, Bishan Singh Bedi used to say working hard at nets leads to proper coordination between the mind and the body.

“I’m sure Kuldeep must have done that, which has helped him regain the lost confidence,” Maninder stated.

A left-arm wrist-spinner in the XI does provide an extra advantage, not just in Tests but in other formats too. India would seriously hope Kuldeep keeps delivering.

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