Kuldeep makes another game-winning appearance from the shadows

Jan 16, 2023

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KARACHI, Pakistan – Let’s examine Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah’s ODI statistics. Kuldeep has 122 wickets after 74 games, a strike rate of 32.30, and an average of 28. With 72 games under his belt, Bumrah has 121 wickets at 121.40 strike rate and 24.30 averages. In his 28th and 57th ODIs, Kuldeep reached the milestones of 50 and 100 wickets, while Bumrah reached them in his 24th and 58th ODIs, respectively. Bumrah has won four Player-of-the-Match accolades; Kuldeep won his fourth on Thursday for taking 3 for 51 in the second ODI against Sri Lanka.

The analogies stop there, though, because Bumrah possesses a unique skill set that is hard to match—a fast pace, an unnatural motion, and excellent accuracy. Kuldeep will continue to be evaluated alongside leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal even if his left-arm wrist spin is equally unusual. At the ODI World Cup, India will almost certainly field at least one finger spin-all-rounder, such as Axar Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, or Washington Sundar, hence Kuldeep and Chahal are no longer necessary. Either Chahal or Kuldeep.

Virat Kohli decided that having choices for middle-over wicket-takers was essential to winning ODIs six years prior. India enjoyed great success because of Kuldeep and Chahal, who were in the right position at the right time. However, the more frequently opponents faced the wrist-spinning combo, the more at ease they were. Both bowlers gradually lost their ability to claim wickets, but Kuldeep had a propensity for having more off days than Chahal. Kuldeep failed to maintain his spot in the Kolkata Knight Riders XI and managed just one wicket in the five matches he played in in 2020 as a result.

In Kuldeep’s career, that was a pivotal point. He appeared to be everywhere from the outside and was no longer in the running for an India spot. However, some who were present say Kuldeep wasn’t cast aside. His physical, emotional, and skill rehabilitation were all priorities for the management of the Indian team. With nothing left to lose after overcoming his fear complex, Kuldeep remade himself with a vigor in his action that allowed him to drift and dip more.

Much of that was on display recently at Eden Gardens during the 17th over of the second One Day International against Sri Lanka. With Kusal Mendis and Nawanidu Fernando poised to put up a century-plus stand for the second wicket, India urgently needed a wicket. The partnership was broken by Kuldeep with a googly that turned across Mendis and struck his pads. Kuldeep’s second victim was the troublesome Indian batsman Dasun Shanaka, who was bowled around the legs while sweeping. When Charith Asalanka attempted to push a ball that wasn’t full enough with powerful hands, Kuldeep once more employed the googly to dismiss him, earning a return catch.

Sri Lanka fell from 102 for 1 to 126 for 6, thanks to Kuldeep’s three wickets, Axar Patel’s dismissal of Dhananjaya de Silva, and a run-out. They never recovered, and India just needed 216 to win because of Kuldeep’s triple-strike.

The match’s primary spinner for India wasn’t Kuldeep. He only played because Chahal, who had a shoulder niggle in the first ODI, did not have enough time to recover. India would have to choose whether to play Kuldeep or bring back Chahal once he has recovered fully from injury. The friendship between India’s top two wrist spinners hasn’t changed despite their heated competition for one position.

Kuldeep’s selection for the last ODI against Sri Lanka is not guaranteed. He had four for eighteen against South Africa in an ODI in October of last year but was not included in the starting lineup again until the tour of Bangladesh in December. He was also benched for the second Test in Mirpur after taking eight wickets in the first Test in Chattogram, which earned him Player of the Match honors. The best left-arm wrist spinner in cricket is rarely seen in full flight, but if he does play in Thiruvananthapuram, enjoy Kuldeep 2.0.

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