Ever since Kuldeep Yadav changed the course of the game in his Test debut against Australia at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala in March 2017, everyone has been in awe of his bowling. The art of wrist-spin can be mesmerizing and the beauty of the pitch was what he did in the series decider between the world’s top teams.
After taking four wickets on debut, Yadav creates interest whenever he comes to bowl, the spectators expect something special. For some time he continued to perform impressively. In January 2019, another five-wicket haul against Australia in Sydney followed, and Indian fans were celebrating the discovery of a genuine match-winner.
But things didn’t go according to plan. His form sank. His confidence disappeared. And now, it has become about watching each game to see if his momentum is back or not.
His performance in the first Test against Bangladesh in Chattogram last week raised hopes that he could be on his way to finding his best form. In India’s 188-run victory, Yadav made the difference with eight wickets in the match (5 for 40 and 3 for 73), underscoring how important the wrist spinner can be in all formats of the game.
As Bangladesh prepares for the second Test, the bowler India will have to contend with is Yadav. This is a good turnaround for this bowler who is playing Test match for the first time after 22 months. Yadav has had to do a lot of work behind the scenes to sort out his game.
His childhood coach Kapil Pandey said, “We worked on getting his rhythm, which was successful.” “When you have good rhythm, everything else is good. In the second innings, the pitch slowed down, but in that too he bowled well as he leaned forward and delivered with force from behind the ball. were doing, they kept the pressure on.”
Former India left-arm spinner Venkatapathy Raju, who was commentating on the game, said bowling for long periods helped settle the nerves. Raju liked the fact that “Yadav was not trying to take wickets, he was trying to bowl well”.
“He was more relaxed. Coming back after a long time, initially you are under pressure, you want to take wickets, so he was a bit tight. Later on, as soon as he started bowling, the rhythm came. Everything was fine. So long spells are important, to find rhythm and bowl comfortably. He looked more comfortable, bowling at around 80 kmph (in the first Test).”
Facing him in the first innings, the Bangladesh batsmen looked like a cat on a hot tin roof. He was giving high revs on the ball. And that combined with the drift and the dip was creating problems for the batsman. This was the result of working on the finer points.
“We increased the speed with the cadence, going by pivoting the weight transfer. Then we say “power in the arm,” which means you have to have strength in your wrist and forearm and the shoulder should be flexible. He has to keep his right arm (non-bowling) a little firmer to avoid releasing early. It was supporting his bowling release. He used it all and it has to be maintained,” says Pandey, spin bowling Explaining the subtleties of.
“When we do a leg lift, our body becomes alignment number 4 (at release). He has good rhythm when he bowls at No.4 position. If he doesn’t lift his leg well, the spinner is going to struggle somewhere. If there isn’t proper body alignment, he may start using his shoulder or wrist (less than he should). Raise your leg and make the ball dance…”
It has been a generally good year for Yadav. Pandey says that doing well in T20 matches was his first target. The focus in preparation for the IPL was to bowl a little quicker through the air. It worked and he took 21 wickets in 14 matches for Delhi Capitals. It paid off when he was selected for the three-match ODI series against South Africa last October, and did well, taking six wickets.
“The more he bowls, the better he gets, so I firmly believe, whenever you are coming back after injury or whatever (form issues), always come back and do three-day or four- Play Match of the Day – Play of the Day. It can be a league match, doesn’t have to be a Ranji match,” says Raju.
Yadav’s form means India have an ideal spin combination in the second Test. Ashwin is the leader of the attack, while Akshar Patel and Yadav also complement each other because of their different strengths. “The combination was such that Axar was bowling more confidently with the harder ball, where there is extra bounce and turn. When the ball got a bit old, Kuldeep played a big role,” says Raju.