Ask Ratnesh Mishra, the Uttar Pradesh Under-19 coach, what special skill his ward, the chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, has and he says, “wake him up from his sleep and ask him to bowl and he will bowl on the same spot again and again”.
On Monday, Kuldeep struck once and then again and again to take a hat-trick against Scotland. His figures of 4 for 28 were matched by off-spinner Aamir Gani as Scotland were bowled out for just 88 in 29.4 overs. In reply, India were reduced to 22 for five but Sarfaraz Khan and Deepak Hooda added an unbeaten 70 for the sixth wicket as India won with 165 balls to spare.
Though Scotland were to be easy pickings for the Indians, it was the three deliveries from Kuldeep — the last two of the nineteenth over and the first of the 20th over — which ensured that Scotland would not punch above their weight.
“During the last match things didn’t go as expected for me but today I just backed myself and concentrated on my line and variations,” Yadav said after his four-wicket haul. The pitch at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium was on the slower side, a completely different surface from the one on which Kuldeep made a shift from a medium-pacer to a spinner.
His coach Kapil Pandey realised that Kuldeep wasn’t going to be tall enough to be a fast bowler so he convinced him to turn to spin.
Kuldeep recalls that he was reluctant initially but in hindsight the decision proved to be life-changing rare art.
On a cemented track, Pandey asked Kuldeep to bowl spin. His ward came up with the chinaman variety, rare for a bowler from the sub-continent.
“My coach was happy with what he saw of me. Soon I discovered that the Chinaman came naturally to me. When I went to play for my state many thought I will have a style similar to Paul Adams but they all were all surprised to see that I had a side-on action,” Kuldeep recalled.
Against Scotland, Kuldeep was effective but he will face tougher tests in the competition. Kuldeep, who was picked by the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL auction, hopes to remain focussed on the task at hand. “I’m happy to get a contract but this is not the time to think about it. We all want to win the World Cup,” he said.
When India plays Papua New Guinea next, Kuldeep hopes he bowls another dream spell. Just like his coach says he does if he is woken up and asked to deliver the cricket ball.
Half the total
On Monday, meanwhile, opener Andrew Umeed scored half of Scotland’s runs with a 77-ball 44 before the rest capitulated miserably. Gavin Main was the only other Scottish batsman to touch the double-figure mark with a 22-ball 16.
Kuldeep and Aamir Gani were the pick of Indian bowlers with four wickets apiece. But Kuldeep shone brighter with his historic feat, which came in the 19th and 21st over. Nick Farrar (0), Kyle Stirling (0) and Alex Baum (5) were the batsmen to fall to Kuldeep in the spectacular spell.
The tweaker had Farrar caught by Deepak Hooda at square leg, before trapping Stirling LBW off his last delivery in the 19th over. Kuldeep completed the hat-trick in the 21st over when he crashed through the stumps of Baum to notch up a historic feat.
Kuldeep was brilliantly backed by off-spinner Gani, who ended Umeed’s resistance by piercing his bat and pad to rattle his stumps. Later he cleaned up the tail to complete a dominating bowling display by the Indians.
All of the bowlers’ efforts was soon negated as the defending champions came in for a shock when they took the field for what looked like an easy chase. Their first wicket fell with just one run on the board when Chayank Gosain got opener Akhil Herwadkar (0) to edge one to wicketkeeper Baum.
Skipper Vijay Zol went back without disturbing the scorer, while the rest of the top half failed to touch the double-digit mark before the middle order stepped in to arrest the slide and save the embarrassment. Gosain was the wrecker-in-chief for Scotland and ended with impressive figures of three for 31 in his 10 overs.
Sarfaraz Khan was the saviour for India with an unbeaten 51-ball 45, which included five fours and a six. He was well-supported by Hooda, who also chipped in with an unbeaten 40-ball 24 to help steer the team home. Hooda struck two fours during his stay at the crease.
Brief scores: Scotland: 88 in 29.4 overs (Andrew Umeed 44, Kuldeep Yadav 4/28, Aamir Gani 4/28); India: 92/5 in 22.3 overs (Sarfaraz Khan 45, Chayank Gosain 3/31).