A sunny day in Manchester, a star-studded England batting line-up and a curtain raiser to the high-profile series against India — the stage looked perfect for the host to continue the assault it inflicted on Australia a week ago.
But Kuldeep Yadav turned out to be the nemesis for the Englishmen, helping India to an eight-wicket win in the first Twenty20 International on Tuesday.
The chinaman bowler finished with impressive figures — 5/24 — to expose England’s continuous frailty against wrist spinners.
It is understood that Kuldeep made a few adjustments to his bowling before the tour. The youngster worked on his flight and bounce on the advice of his coach, Kapil Pandey. “Before he left, he played a practice match at the Rovers Ground here [in Kanpur] comprising all my students where he picked six wickets. The idea of the match was to ensure that he generates decent flight with a certain height and bounce,” Pandey told Sportstar on Wednesday.
Kuldeep had to keep his deliveries flat during the Indian Premier League but in England — given the breeze and swinging conditions — he was told that flight would be his sword. “He worked on that.
"I also told him to slow down a bit before release. You may have noticed that the ball, where he got Joe Root stumped, almost reached Dhoni’s chest. The wickets are generally hard, similar to Australia, and he got the bounce I was looking for,” added Pandey.
That practice match provided Kuldeep resistance and tenacity. “It was 42 degrees and I had told my boys to hit him out of the park so that he could learn how to function in the situation. I also called Faiz Ahmed [Railways] to bat to Kuldeep. Faiz is also an old student of mine and he knew all of Kuldeep’s tricks. But he still got out to him. It was a tough session,” said Pandey, who feels Kuldeep would succeed in Tests if given a chance.
Also read: I’m not scared of getting hit, says Kuldeep
“He needs to maintain the spin, keep working on the flight and continue the spot-bowling. How long can a batsman hold a flipper, googly and the rest of the stock balls? Eventually, he will charge aiming for runs.
“He did well in the Tests he played so far. He got the Australian top-order out, which included David Warner, on his debut in Dharamsala,” he reasoned.
The 23-year-old Kuldeep, along with Yuzvendra Chahal, cemented his spot in the national team after a successful limited-overs season at home in 2017.
Earlier this year, the tour of South Africa confirmed his overseas calibre. Kuldeep finished with 17 wickets in six One Day Internationals leaving the Proteas bemused.
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