Kuldeep Yadav, India’s trump card in the middle overs, found himself at the receiving end in Dharamsala for the first time in the World Cup but he managed to pull himself out of the hole by sticking to his “strength”. Kuldeep and Ravindra Jadeja have made India the best performing bowling unit in the middle overs so far in the competition but the game against New Zealand showed either of them can have a rare off day and it could spell trouble for the hosts. The 28-year-old left-arm wrist spinner from Kanpur has been rewarded for targeting the stumps, varying his pace and tossing up the ball since his comeback from injury.
He has consistently delivered for India over the past 18 months but was taken to the cleaners by Daryl Mitchell on Sunday. The in-form right hander resorted to what the other teams’ batters could not attempt against Kuldeep, stepping out and launching an attack.
In an attempt to break his rhythm, Mitchell hit him for three straight sixes.
Rachin Ravindra also did the same against Kuldeep who leaked 48 runs in his first five overs and eventually 73 from his quota of 10 overs.
With his stock plan not working, the wily Indian went for a fast seam up against the rampaging Mitchell. The old Kuldeep might have opted to alter his length after the onslaught but he continued to attack in his comeback spell resulting in two important wickets of Tom Lathan and the dangerous Glenn Phillips. He would have got rid of Mitchell too if Bumrah held on to a regulation catch in the deep.
Former India spinner and selector Sarandeep Singh lauded Kuldeep’s comeback against the Black Caps. “He can’t perform in every game. I would say it is good thing that it happened against New Zealand, he will be better prepared for the next game. And he did bounce back to take those two wickets, else we were looking at a 300-plus total.”
Being a spinner himself, Sarandeep feels Kuldeep’s best bet is to keep attacking even when he is going for runs. “He can only attack, he can’t stop the runs. His strength is to take wickets. Rohit also has to support him when he is put under pressure. No matter how many runs he gives, his only job is to take wickets as he can’t do the containment job.
“His second spell made the difference yesterday. He is the biggest match winner for India in this competition. The only way to stop runs on these tracks is by taking wickets. He has been the reason why teams have not been able to score 350 against India,” reckoned Sarandeep.
The wrist spinner has so far taken eight wickets in five games at an impressive economy rate of 4.74, having bowled 50 overs in five games.
Kuldeep himself has spoken about the technical changes that has contributed to his tremendous success over the past 18 months and they include changes to his arm speed and use of angles.
What stands out for Sarandeep in Kuldeep 2.0 is his aggressive approach.
“His release is a lot better. The variations are there as he is not afraid to bowl the fuller length. The New Zealanders had planned to step out against him and target the tossed up ball. It was brilliant from Kuldeep that he kept doing what he was doing despite being put under pressure.
“In white-ball cricket it is all about being accurate. If the ball is not turning keep targeting the stumps,” added Sarandeep.
Mitchell made a memorable 130 and got the better of Kuldeep but duly acknowledged the class of his rival and friend.
“I’ve known Kuldeep for a while now. He’s a great man and we get on well off the field and yeah for me it’s just keep trying to find ways to put pressure on their bowlers, it’s not just him it’s the same with every bowler that we come up against.
“It’s about trying to find ways to put pressure on them. He’s done really well over the last few years for India and it’s awesome to see him have some success.
“You come in with plans, you come up with ways you want to play different guys. And for me today, that was obviously an option that worked,” said the New Zealander.
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