Shattering the Australians like fragile China!

In the land of spin, it is not surprising that Kuldeep Yadav has emerged as a reliable prospect. As a wrist spinner he is bound to make an impact given the fact that he bowls chinaman. His intriguing skills with the ball would enhance his reputation, but the challenge for him would be to innovate and stay in the reckoning.

Kuldeep Yadav’s rare wares proved puzzling.   -  PTI

The Australians were in a tizzy in Dharamsala. In a master move, India coach Anil Kumble and stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane took a bold and decisive step to include Kuldeep Yadav in the playing XI for the final Test. The chinaman bowler delivered in style and India had discovered a bowler of promising skills.

More than a decade ago Kuldeep, a resident of Kanpur, reported to Kapil Dev Pandey, a coach known to pick and promote talent most diligently. The coach was surprised when the puny lad announced his ambition to bowl like Wasim Akram, the wily fast bowler from Pakistan.

It is to Pandey’s credit that he convinced the youngster to bowl slow and Kuldeep came up with a style not popular in India. “I am very impressed with his desire to improve. The fact that he was not intimidated by the presence of David Warner and Steve Smith speaks of his talent,” Kumble remarked at the end of the Test.

Kuldeep made a fine debut. His four victims in Australia’s first innings were Warner, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb and Glenn Maxwell. Handscomb was bowled through the gate, while Maxwell was squared up by a googly. The batsmen looked woefully hapless against the guiles of Kuldeep, who looked a seasoned bowler.

“Learning from Warne and then using those tricks to get the Australian batsmen out was a great thing. The wicket of Warner was not a chinaman. It was a flipper which I learnt from Warne. I did exactly what he told me to do. I have followed him since childhood,” Kuldeep’s response was measured, but his indebtedness to Warne was clear.

“When I walked towards him (Warne), I couldn’t believe that I was standing in front of him. He greeted me with a warm smile and it felt very heartening to see a legend embrace you in that manner. It was a great experience. I asked a lot of things about my bowling and the different ways to use my variations effectively,” Kuldeep remarked on the day of his debut.

This chinaman from Kanpur was nearly lost to cricket. He was twice rejected at the State junior trials and was dejected enough to give up the dream of pursuing a career in cricket. But then he was aware of the travails of Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli, who had suffered a similar experience in Delhi.

For his coach, it was the culmination of a journey that began at his coaching centre. “He wanted to bowl fast, like Wasim Akram. But he did not have the strength to bowl fast. I advised him to bowl spin and the chinaman style was a natural,” Pandey was quoted in the media.

For former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi it was a pleasant development. “I liked the kid’s confidence. It is important that you maintain your confidence level when playing at the highest level. He was not overawed by some good batsmen in the opposition and I am sure he will serve long. But we must preserve him from burn out,” said Bedi, who feared Kuldeep may lose his skills by playing in the shortest format of the game.

Kuldeep and Kapil Dev Pandey, the coach who moulded him.

 

In the land of spin, it is not surprising that Kuldeep has emerged as a reliable prospect. As a wrist spinner he is bound to make an impact given the fact that he bowls chinaman. His intriguing skills with the ball would enhance his reputation, but the challenge for him would be to innovate and stay in the reckoning.

Kuldeep too realises that the pressure on him would increase once opponents begin to analyse his style. The strong point of his bowling is the element of surprise that he brings in. His dedication has carried him to play at the highest level and the onus is on the 22-year-old to grow from the position he finds himself in.