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 continued…