Perils of being an attacking leg-spinner is that there is always a risk of getting collared. Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav perhaps felt that inevitable pain when he bowled his ninth over during a tense phase of play in Nagpur.
Australia needed 59 runs from eight overs before that over, and as the red-faced bowler walked away after it, 44 were needed from seven.
Two enterprising strokes had given Alex Carey two boundaries, and Marcus Stoinis mightily stepped down the track to hit a six down the ground. Australia was back in the contest.
Despite this, however, he continued to toss it up in his final over, and had his man. Carey seemed to have misjudged the length of a googly; trying to play a sweep shot, he was bowled. It was a decisive moment as it exposed the tail, which crumbled quickly against India’s fast bowlers.
In the course of the ODI series so far, Kuldeep, the highest wicket-taker in the series, has consistently provided loop, air, and drift. Many of his wickets have been of batsmen of good pedigree; as it is a hit-or-miss case against Kuldeep, bowled and lbw dismissals are never far away.
And his success has been demonstrated not just in India. Kuldeep has taken three wickets or more 17 times, including in the Caribbean, in South Africa, in England and in New Zealand.
In comparison, fellow wrist-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has claimed three wickets or more 10 times, having played two matches less.
Sitting on 85 ODI wickets from 42 matches, Kuldeep is well in contention to be the second-fastest to 100 wickets, and the fastest Indian to the landmark. He has nine matches by which to take the remaining 15 wickets.
He is gradually showcasing himself as a trump card for India. His unorthodox bowling style – chinaman bowlers aren’t ubiquitous – and his bowling skills have certainly contributed to his success.
But equally importantly, his success has been a good testimony of his principles.
As Kapil Pandey, his personal coach, had revealed to Sportstar , the batsman is likely to eventually make a mistake if he is tested well with flight and drift, and Kuldeep has been encouraged to keep at it. Getting hit for boundaries occasionally is the necessary by-product.
As Australia aims to level the series in Mohali, its top order cannot rest easy with Kuldeep in the way.
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