South Africa vs India 2018: Kuldeep Yadav's splendid spell is SK Play of the Day
Reiterating the value of wrist-spin in an era of batsmen-friendly white-ball cricket, Kuldeep Yadav produced a sublime spell to trouble South Africa in the opening ODI at Durban. The Kingsmead track played true to its traditional nature of supporting spinners and the chinaman bowler took advantage of the conditions by picking up three crucial wickets.
Upon winning the toss and unsurprisingly opting to bat first, South Africa were up and running as Quinton de Kock shed his horror Test form and recaptured his timing. With skipper Faf du Plessis for company, he laid the platform for a strong total.
However, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal offset South Africa's plans by removing de Kock before proceeding to dismiss Aiden Markram as well. With the surface providing assistance for the tweakers, India reaped rich rewards for unleashing their two talented wrist-spinners. It did not take too long for Kuldeep to get in on the act too.
Kuldeep dents South Africa
Kuldeep got into the groove by finding an impeccable length to strangle the South African batsmen. Varying his pace smartly, he brought the batsmen forward by generating copious flight and imparting significant drift through the air. When the Proteas looked for the drive, he pushed them back by utilising the quicker one to good effect. The googly was employed to keep the batsmen guessing. From his first five overs, he conceded just 15 runs.
Watch the highlights of Kuldeep dismissing Duminy here
Following the completion of the half-way mark in the innings, Kuldeep rattled the home team by confounding JP Duminy with a well-disguised googly. Pulling the length back a touch, he let the ball skid through and strike timber. The left-hander was beaten by all accounts.
122/4 soon became 134/5 as Kuldeep took the dangerous David Miller out of the equation. Tossing the ball up smartly, the wrist-spinner did not give the southpaw anything to work with. The batsman was lured into the drive due to the slower pace and his hesitant feet movement resulted in a half-hearted shot which ended in the safe hands of the diving Virat Kohli.
A much more aggressive captain would have preferred to continue with Kuldeep and apply relentless pressure on the lower-order. But Kohli chose to keep the left-armer's three remaining overs up his sleeve. He attempted to tighten India's grip by employing the seamers.
Pouncing on the change of pace, Chris Morris wielded the long handle with gay abandon. Four boundaries and a massive maximum prevented du Plessis from taking any needless risks in a crucial stage of the innings. The six came off the bowling of Kuldeep who was brought back into the attack ahead of the death overs.
Kuldeep broke the threatening 74-run partnership by getting rid of Morris. Realising that the hard-hitter was going after anything in his arc, he floated one above his eye-line. The right-hander had shown his hand by getting into position into sweep. However, he only ended up missing a full toss which spun back in to disturb the wood work.
South Africa rode on du Plessis' resilient century and registered a fighting total of 269. From India's point of view, Kuldeep's impressive spell and his blossoming combination with Chahal had left their batsmen with an attainable target.