Aussies prep hard to crack the Kuldeep code

Steve Smith and his men are leaving no stone unturned in their preparation to face India's secret weapon: Kuldeep Yadav.

Kuldeep Yadav bowls in the nets under coach Ravi Shastri's supervision on the eve of the first India-Australia ODI in Chennai.   -  B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Kuldeep Yadav — the Australians wouldn’t have taken this name too seriously when they toured India for Test series earlier this year.

And, they had to pay the price for that. In the series-deciding Dharamsala Test, the Uttar Pradesh bowler rocked the Australian batting line-up, scalping four wickets.

And as the Steven Smith’s side gears up for another series — this time, in the shorter version — it's preparing hard to face Kuldeep. The Aussies have been practising in the nets longer, and, as Smith said, have flown in rookie Kerala left-arm wrist spinner K. K. Jiyas from Ernakulam.

“They (India) have got Kuldeep Yadav in their squad and he is likely to play. There is a chance to train against someone like that. There isn’t too many in the world,” Smith said in the pre-match presser on Saturday.

But then, what makes Kuldeep so worrisome?

Many in the cricketing fraternity believe that his action is hard to read because he wears full-sleeved tees.

Considered mystery bowlers, wrist-spinners like Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep are expected to play a key role in the series. And aware that they could be dangerous in the sub-continent, Australia is leaving no stone unturned to crack the code. “A few of the guys played against him in the IPL and he is a good young talent and can be difficult to pick at times. Someone who you have to watch a little bit closely,” is how Smith looks at it.

In an earlier chat with Sportstar, Kuldeep, had made it clear that there is nothing mysterious about his deliveries. “I just keep things simple and to the stump,” he had said.

But that, perhaps, is not enough to ease the Aussies' concern. “I think spin could play a part particularly in the middle overs. Just to change things up and take the pace off the ball,” Smith said.

Former Australia left-arm wrist-spinner Brad Hogg, who is in Chennai as a commentator, is also looking forward to watch Kuldeep — someone he has always regarded highly.

India vice captain Rohit Sharma said he looks at the Kuldeep-Chahal pair as "mystery spinners." "You never know what’s coming out of their hands to be honest. That’s what they bring to the table and that’s what the captain really wants,” Sharma said.

While there’s so much happening around him, Kuldeep tries to remain composed. In the practice session on Saturday, he bowled in the nets under the watchful eyes of coach Ravi Shastri and bowling coach Bharath Arun.

He, however, was not allowed to bowl much. With Axar Patel battling an injury, the team management, too, wants to keep Kuldeep's mystery alive.

After all, assets should be well kept!