Spin bowling is undoubtedly one of the craftier parts of cricket. It has been a force in the cricketing world recently, especially in Asia where pitches offer greater turn. This is one of the main reasons why India has produced some outstanding spinners over the years. The main characteristic of a spinner is not defined by the type of bowler i.e. an off spinner or a leg spinner, but their ability to topple the batsmen with different variations.
Over the last two decades, India has seen various leg spinners, including Anil Kumble and Amit Mishra, and off spinners like Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, etc. We've also seen the emergence of left arm orthodox bowlers in legendary Bishan Bedi from the olden days and Ravindra Jadeja, who is currently the No.1 bowler in the world.
Some spinners possess talent to induce another type of delivery which is also known as the left arm unorthodox. Also known as a chinaman bowler, the ball is spun with the help of the wrists which turns it into the right handed batsmen and away from the left handed batsmen. What's more unique is the rarity of such bowlers in international cricket.
The cricketing world has witnessed some famous chinaman bowlers namely Paul Adams, Sir Gary Sobers, Brad Hogg and few more. As Kuldeep Yadav was given his first test cap by Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, history was recreated as he became the first chinaman bowler to represent India.
Kuldeep Yadav first made his mark in the Under 19 World Cup 2014 and later established himself in the India A and Uttar Pradesh sides. Most people noted him being the support bowler to Sunil Narine in the Kolkata Knight Riders setup. But what stood out for him was his Ranji performance, where he ended up as the highest wicket taker for Uttar Pradesh with 35 scalps. His unique action has helped him gain quick recognition among other contemporaries.
Coming back to Dharamshala; David Warner and Steve Smith were running away with the game with a solid partnership in the first session. At 143/1, Kuldeep Yadav finally found his ground, as he claimed his maiden Test wicket: the dangerous David Warner. He bamboozled him with what he called a flipper as Warner ended up edging it straight to Ajinkya Rahane. Clearly pumped up, Kuldeep Yadav performed a mini jump as he was surrounded by his teammates.
This wicket was an impulsion for him. Yadav would then go on to produce a series of brilliant deliveries to slice through the Australian batting order. He smartly set up Peter Handscomb and followed up by getting him perfectly bowled through the gates. It took a special effort to break in Handscomb's vigorous defence. From continuously tossing it up to then absolutely ripping one past him, Kuldeep Yadav had him stunned for a moment.
Glenn Maxwell likes to dominate the bowlers. He hit a boundary, rightly anticipating the traditional off-to-leg delivery from Kuldeep Yadav. One ball later, Maxwell’s off stump was knocked off by a googly that he had expected to spin into him. Yadav’s variations had baffled Maxwell and it was quite evident. Kuldeep had everyone's captivated.
Pat Cummins seemed completely clueless against the chinaman as Yadav turned the tables in India's favour in what became a match-defining session. India went on to win the match and the series. Stand in captain Ajinkya Rahane described Kuldeep’s spell as the turning point. He also earned praises from the master Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne and many more who spoke highly about him.
It was a spectacle to watch Kuldeep Yadav bowl so intrepidly. He seized the moment and showcased some of his rare talent. With so much contrast in the deliveries he bowled, be it the googly or the stock delivery or the flipper, he bamboozled the Australian batsmen. They didn't seem to have the slimmest idea regarding what awaited them. Bowling with complete control, the way he was setting up batsmen was a praiseworthy example of what a versatile cricketing mind he had.
Kuldeep Yadav believed in taking wickets even at the expense of runs and thrived on that belief. When asked about his prized wicket during the glory spell, Kuldeep Yadav sounded a lot like a free spirited youngster, "All four are precious but the first one [Warner] was very special. The next two [Handscomb & Maxwell] were satisfying, as I got them exactly how I had visualised their dismissals."
While he got an opportunity to prove his mettle only during the last game, this Australian series will still be a huge experience boost for the 22 year old. Going through the drills along with the national team, talking to seniors like Ashwin and Jadeja about the perils of the season, living up to the fitness demands of a full series and gaining of some new skills will prove to be quite beneficial for Kuldeep Yadav.
With the dominance of Ashwin and Jadeja as a formidable duo, it has been difficult for any spinner to break in the team. The likes of Amit Mishra and Jayant Yadav have been the third choice spinners in recent months. It's safe to say that Kuldeep has joined this healthy competition between the spinners and will look to add more feathers to his cap in the near future.
'As a young sportsman, it's first about having fun, then about winning.' Kuldeep Yadav surely seems to be having fun in the midst at the moment. With age on his side, Kuldeep Yadav has got all the time in the world to display his valour in the international arena. Being a rare chinaman among the current pool of players is just going to add to his esteem.
His effectiveness and consistency is going to be crucial in determining what the future beholds for Kuldeep Yadav. The fairytale has just begun!
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