Former India international Sanjay Manjrekar has pointed out some 'worrying signs' about Kuldeep Yadav. Manjrekar feels the 26-year-old left-arm wrist-spinner has lost his touch because he's 'conforming' to the standards set by his critics, and in the process, losing his originality.
Kuldeep Yadav made his much-anticipated comeback to white-ball cricket in the first India-England ODI. However, the spinner looked completely out of sorts and went wicketless. He had a high economy rate of 7.6 in his nine years, a testimony to his erratic line and lengths throughout the game.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Sanjay Manjrekar noted that Kuldeep Yadav was trying to bowl a lot quicker than he usually does, which led to him giving away too many freebies to the batsmen.
"See, I think it's finally got to him where he realises what he needs to do, so he's basically conforming to the needs of modern-day cricket. People wanted him to bowl quicker, and we saw Kuldeep Yadav bowl very quickly today. He mostly bowled in the mid-80s (km/h). There was just one ball that was 70 km/h. Earlier he used to bowl many deliveries in the 70 km/h range. He bowled a 109 km/h delivery as well. He's bowling that flipper, which on a couple of occasions, went as high full-tosses. So he's trying to change, he's trying to become something he's not. And in the process, this was the first time I have seen Kuldeep Yadav lose his accuracy," said Sanjrey Manjrekar.
Sharing another observation, Sanjay Manjrekar remarked that Kuldeep Yadav maintained an uncharacteristic middle-stump line in the game, which was very passive by his standards. He said in this regard:
"He started off by bowling almost rank short deliveries, and I have never seen him not being accurate. And one final point about him, and very critical as well - there was just one ball that he bowled outside the off-stump for the right-hander. He focussed on just bowling middle and leg stump line which is the line of a bowler who is slightly defensive, worried about getting hit for fours and sixes. Whether that was the brief, I don't know, but the change of line and the pace and the loss of accuracy tells me there are a few things going wrong with Kuldeep Yadav."
Kuldeep Yadav failed to make an impact on the game. That was significant because, except for the left-arm wrist-spinner, every other Indian bowler took at least one wicket as the hosts clinically defended their target of 317 by 66 runs.
"Critical for Indian team management to nurture Kuldeep Yadav with care" - Sanjay Manjrekar
Sanjay Manjrekar, however, waxed lyrical about Kuldeep Yadav. He spoke about the bowler's 'rare talent' which needs to be nurtured and urged the Indian team management to invest in the youngster with care to help him fulfil his true potential.
"I think it's critical for the Indian team management to nurture Kuldeep Yadav with care because the current cricketing scenario with the three formats is starting to take its toll on him. He's starting to become a different bowler. It's really important that he must stick to his strengths and his rare talent. Kuldeep Yadav is somebody who's out of the box, and if you look after him well, he's going to serve you longer, and his rewards will be richer. I saw a completely different Kuldeep Yadav today, and sometimes I just worry about where his career is going," concluded Sanjay Manjrekar.
With India registering a convincing win, it is unlikely Virat Kohli will make any changes in the playing eleven for the second ODI. That means Kuldeep Yadav should get another opportunity to prove his mettle on the big stage.
The second game of the three-match series starts in Pune on Friday, where the hosts will look to clinch the series with another win.