Peter Handscomb trying to bid his time at the crease on 8, Kuldeep Yadav puts in the hard yards, tempts the batsman with a full delivery. Handscomb thinks he has this one covered and goes for the drive, the ball pitches outside off, and was there to be driven looking at its line and length. It drifts away from the batsman but turns back into the right-hander after pitching. A huge gap has been spawned between the bat and pad, the red cherry rips through the wide gap and shatters the timber.
Handscomb fell prey to Yadav’s persistence on a delivery, which can be rightly termed as a dream one for any left-arm chinaman bowler. This is how rapidly things change, a boy delivered one of the magical deliveries of the series on his debut.
A Test debut is many budding cricketers dream come true. It’s an honour for any sportsman to represent his nation at the highest level. It demands dedication, hard work and precision. Making it to the Indian Test side is no less than climbing Mount Everest.
A cricketer has to be the best from his city, his state, and then the best in the country to earn a Test call. After taking the gigantic stride, there is a fight within and with the teammates to be the best and make it to the playing XI. After putting immense efforts, he reaps its fruitful dividends and accomplishes the prestigious Test call. His story from a club cricketer to India’s Test player is fascinating and mostly filled with sacrifices and adherence.
— BCCI (@BCCI) March 25, 2017
India’s left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav’s story is no different. He announced himself on the grandest stage of cricket with a bang and lived up to the expectations on day 1 of the ongoing Test in Dharamsala. In fact, he recorded the second-best figures by an Indian left-arm spinner on debut with the best being Dilip Doshi (6/103), who was an orthodox spinner. Left-arm chinaman is a rare breed of bowlers, it’s onerous yet effective. It’s an art, which handful manage to master. Kuldeep certainly belongs to that league. Make no mistake, Kuldeep initially started off as a pace bowler, but his coach during his early days asked him to transform into an infrequent left-arm wrist spinner.
It’s the winner takes all Test and the onus is certainly on India. Very few would have thought Dharamsala game to be a series decider as Australia have stuck to their guns and denied India another overwhelming series win at home till now. With Virat Kohli being ruled out, India were in deep trouble and had to make few tough calls on their playing combination. With this being a must-win game and Ranchi ending in a draw along with reports suggesting some grass on the wicket prior to the start, it was likely that India would adopt a five-bowler strategy going into the encounter.
Many cricket pundits predicted India to go with an extra seamer and get the most of the hard surface. But surprisingly, they handed over the Test cap to a talented 22-year old, who was waiting to make an impact on arrival. He was not even in the picture to play the series decider. It’s like a rabbit out of a hat and his his inclusion is a sheer masterstroke, which absolutely raised many eyebrows.
Yadav replaced the injured Kohli as India showed some true individuality and demeanour by taking the tough call. India did a commendable job by drafting Yadav in the ultimate encounter, keeping in mind the the series being evenly poised at the moment. Had his debut been earlier in the series, one could see Australia getting used to his style of bowling and have had enough time to come out with a game-plan against him. His unexpected addition has denied Australia any breathing spaces to plan against him as not many were aware of him.
Yadav kept it simple with the ball, he isn’t a mystery bowler, but rather banks on his stock deliveries, which is the leg-spin. His bowling relies on the sound techniques of flighting the ball up and getting the turn. Many a times, a spinner tends to overuse his googlies, but Yadav showed some astuteness and made an effective use of his deceiving weapon, which he delivers without any discernible change in action. He was accurate and got the ball to pitch up, in fact, he pitched most of his deliveries full. Yadav is slightly quicker through the air, Australian batsmen failed to pick him off the hand, but he kept it full to keep them guessing. Both Warner and Glenn Maxwell played him off the back foot and perished.
Australia were tightening the noose around India with 131 runs on the board at Lunch and with nine wickets in hand, India were in hot water. Warner was trying to rediscover his lost mojo while Smith was on the top of his game. India were under the pump and needed to break this threatening partnership. Yadav started to find rhythm and managed to get a thick part of Warner’s willow straight at first slip. Warner became Yadav’s maiden Test scalp and India got the much-needed breakthrough. Yadav, on this occasion, pitched it full and kept the batsman thinking; this one turned away from Warner and seemed to have bounced a bit extra than anticipated.
— BCCI (@BCCI) March 25, 2017
Yadav’s second scalp was Handscomb and he was undone by a peach of a delivery. Maxwell showed nerves of steel and fought fire with fire at Bangalore to silent his harshest critics with his maiden ton. He walked out to bat in a similar situation, but Yadav ensured the manic batsman didn’t trouble them for long.
Maxwell smashed Yadav for a boundary off the fourth ball as it was pitched quite full but this didn’t stop the wily bowler from daring to pitch it up again. He set Maxwell up with his stock deliveries and then uprooted his stumps with a googly on the fifth delivery of the 49th over. The ball pitched on middle-leg and was full again. Maxwell, who failed to read the googly, stepped on the back foot as the ball turned away from him to end his innings for 8.
The nature of the pitch was such that it would help wrist-spinners to do well, the hardness of the surface and some bounce would assist them. And one just can’t take away the credit of the coach and the captain to assess the conditions well and call Yadav in. The fact that Ashwin and Jadeja bagged just a wicket each, meant that the surface was not as conducive as they were in Pune and Bangalore for the finger-spinners.
Yadav showed massive temperament and bowled with a big heart at such crucial stage to give India an edge. Rahane also made a tactical error in not bringing on Yadav into the attack when the tail was open after Smith’s fall. It was quite evident that Australia were struggling to pick him up and Yadav could have decimated them a bit earlier.
Pat Cummins was complementing Matthew Wade well and the duo accounted for 37 runs between them already. Yadav fascinated Cummins with a fuller one, which dipped on him and the latter ended up handing a simple catch back to him. Australia were done and dusted for 300 after being in a comfortable position to get a big score.
Yadav bagged four wickets on his Test debut and the fact that he claimed it on the first day of a Test match, makes his run more special. India would love to finish the last leg of the marathon home season by adding another feather to their cap. Yadav has certainly turned things in India’s favour in the first innings and gave them an upper-hand.