Ranji Trophy: Siddharth Kaul, one for the long haulhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/ranji-trophy-siddharth-kaul-one-for-the-long-haul-5516267/

Ranji Trophy: Siddharth Kaul, one for the long haul

Siddharth Kaul's 12th five-wicket haul in first-class cricket not only ensured that Kerala were bundled out for just 121 but also helped Kaul reach the milestone of 200 first- class wickets in 57 matches.

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Punjab’s Siddharth Kaul returned with figures of 6/55 on Day 1 of their Ranji Trophy match against Kerala on Sunday. (Express photo: Jaipal Singh)

After the end of the day’s play, Siddharth Kaul came out of the Punjab dressing room to cheer for not out batsmen Jiwanjot Singh and captain Mandeep Singh, who had put on an unbroken century partnership to put the team in a commanding position. The 28-year-old pacer had himself done more than bit by capturing six wickets on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy encounter against Kerala, a day which ended with Punjab taking a lead of 14 runs with eights wickets in hand.

Kaul’s 12th five-wicket haul in first-class cricket not only ensured that Kerala were bundled out for just 121 but also took Kaul reached to the milestone of 200 first- class wickets in 57 matches.

“It feels good. Especially as such a performance has come at a time when the team needed it. I did what was required of me as a bowler. I usually bowl with the new ball and the ball was not moving much initially. Yuvi pa and captain Mandeep, too, told me that ball itna move nahin kar raha. Aur kuch over baad SG ball ban bhi jata hai (the ball doesn’t move much and starts reversing after a few overs.)

“So when the ball started to move a little, I bowled eight overs till lunch and wanted to bowl after the break as well. Sometimes, on such kind of wickets, bowlers try to do something extra. But my aim was to bowl a third and fourth wicket line maintaining my length and the movement will help,” Kaul said.

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The last two years have seen Kaul take the next step in his development by becoming the most successful Punjab bowler in the 2016-2017 Ranji season with 35 wickets, which included three five-wicket hauls, apart from 21 scalps in 17 matches in this year’s IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

The pacer made his ODI debut for India in England earlier this year, and also played a T20I each against England and Ireland during the tour.

Post that, apart from the Quadrangular series involving Australia A and South Africa A, Kaul was also part of the India A squad for the New Zealand tour earlier this month, grabbing key wickets.

He has also been working with former India pacer Zaheer Khan and spent some time under the left-arm bowler prior to the New Zealand tour.

“I have been training under Zaheer paji for the last 6-7 months and it has helped me tremendously. He focused on things like which muscles to use for my type of bowling and at this point of my career, it helps if you get good guidance. Before going to New Zealand too, I talked to him. There were New Zealand international players in the series and to pick wickets there made me realise my calibre and where I stand and where I can improve,” said Kaul.

On Sunday, Kaul’s 10 overs in the first session saw four of Kerala’s top six batsmen falling with Sanju Samson clean bowled and Jalaj Saxena caught by Yuvraj Singh at point.

Post lunch, Kaul bowled five more overs accounting for two more wickets. It was his second five-wicket haul this Ranji season after the one against Delhi last month.

“During the last 1-2 years, I just have spent time on improving my basics and to understand what is required at what point of time,” the paceman said.

And while he is currently not in the Indian team, Kaul does dream about playing at the World Cup.

“Like all cricketers, that is my dream as well. However, my job is to bowl and perform well consistently. I’ll try to give my best in the next innings I bowl in, and the rest that follow. If the selectors see some potential in me, then I’ll make the cut,” concluded Kaul.

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Brief scores: Kerala 121 all out (Vishnu Vinod 35; Siddarth Kaul 6/55) trail Punjab 135/2 (Jiwanjot Singh 67 batting, Mandeep Singh 41 batting) by 14 runs