It's time for Kuldeep Yadav's inclusion in the Test squad
After a successful T20 campaign against England, a very confident team India failed to capitalize on the momentum earned by a terrific win in the 1st ODI and lost the ODI series 2-1. An energetic English dugout, after capturing the ODI series by flying colours, is all set to lock horns with the guests in the 5-match Test series, kicking off with the 1st test in Birmingham.
One of the major reasons behind India's dominance over England in the T20 series and the 1st ODI was the wrist spinner, Kuldeep Yadav. The chinaman impressed the fans and experts alike by delivering some of the finest performances of his career. He put the English batsmen from top order to the lower order in hot water for the most part of the tour.
The hosts found it difficult to read the chinaman's wrist position in the earlier games. Kuldeep Yadav has impressed in the limited overs format, with England unable to read his leg breaks and wrong’uns to the extent that even Joe Root struggled to read him. The English team did their homework by studying Kuldeep using the bowling machine "Merlyn" to understand the angle, the wrong'uns, and the flight Kuldeep put to use against them.
Now is the time for the real test of calibre, merit, and resilience. The entire cricketing fraternity- from fans to the cricket pundits, has eyeballs glued towards the upcoming Test series. An important question arises now? Should Kuldeep Yadav be given a spot in the Indian Test Squad?
Before you dig deeper, let us see how Kuldeep fared in the highest level of cricket. He has played only two Test matches so far. He made his Test debut against Australia at Dharamshala in 2017 and played a crucial role towards India's victory by registering a 4-wicket haul. He bowled wicket-to-wicket and varied his pace as per the pitch variations.
Kuldeep has played 24 First-class matches and scalped 90 wickets. In the 33 List A matches that he has played, he has 62 victims to his name.
This is a perfectly good timing to give him a slot in the Test squad owing to the adaptation and temperament he has shown in English conditions. His unconventional bowling style has reaped rewards for India in the ongoing tour. He has used the width of the crease to a great effect.
Kuldeep is a handy option in the batting line-up as well. Averaging 28 with the blade, he has 1 century and 5 fifties to his name. He may not be the quickest on the field but he sure is a good fielder to bank upon.
His mindset towards the game is a much crucial factor. He is a mentally tough cricketer, and he has proven in on a number of occasions. After a successful spell in the 1st T20 against England, he failed to scalp a single wicket in the 2nd T20 where the English batsmen adopted the counter-attack trick on him, but when he was given the responsibility in the 1st ODI, he hit back with 6 wickets, conceding only 25 runs.
It was a similar situation in Kolkata in the 2nd ODI against Australia last year when Smith, Maxwell, and Stoinis picked him as the target. He kept calm and decimated Australia's lower order by taking a hat-trick and anchored India towards victory. This goes to show his situational awareness and ability to handle pressure- much-needed qualities a Test cricketer should possess.
While Kuldeep wrecked havoc with the white ball in the limited overs format, a red ball in his hand can prove to be more dangerous for the hosts. English batsmen have struggled to read his wrist position earlier and a similar condition may present itself again as it will be difficult to pick the seam position of the red ball. Given the unconventional bowling style Kuldeep has, batsmen might face difficulties understanding the variation of the deliveries.
Over the years, Kuldeep has evolved as a bowler who has learned how to deal with pressure. When Yuzvendra Chahal was struggling to pick wickets in the T20 and ODI series, Kuldeep took the added responsibilty to provide his team with crucial breakthroughs. The chinaman has a lot of variations in his arsenal and is ready to prove his mettle in the toughest format of the game.