ICC Cricket World Cup 2023: Mohamed Siraj & Kuldeep Yadav among top 5 India wicket-takers since 2022; Is the duo a certainty for CWC 2023?
India have been on a roll in recent times when it comes to ODI cricket and the magnificent run of form has come at the start of an all important 50-overs World Cup year for the team. Being the hosts, India wouldn’t have asked for a better beginning to the year 2023 in ODI cricket, after having thumped both Sri Lanka and New Zealand by a margin of 3-0 each.
This comes after a stunning loss at the hands of Bangladesh (1-2) away from home at the end of 2022; the Indian side came under severe criticism post that dismal show. Though neither the win against a number 8-ranked SL side or a depleted Kiwi side is something to boast about, the nature of wins would give the Rohit-led India side immense confidence moving forward. Even their side missed some of the regulars in both those series and India would only strengthen with their presence.
India’s next assignment in ODIs will be against Australia and that will be their biggest test yet in the home season as far this format goes.
But for the time being, we rejoice with the fact that India may have found two trump cards in the bowling department close to the World Cup. The duo is none other than the left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav and pacer Mohammed Siraj.
Kuldeep emerged as the second-highest wicket-taker in the recently concluded ODI series against NZ where he bagged 6 wickets in three games at an economy rate of 5.46, while Siraj ended third on the list with 5 wickets in 3 games at an impressive economy rate of 3.50. Moreover, Siraj is India’s leading wicket-taker in ODIs since the beginning of 2022 with 38 scalps and Kuldeep sits at the fourth position with 23 wickets in the same time period.
Kuldeep getting back into his own since beginning of 2022
Kuldeep Yadav’s comeback story is one of the major positives for India in the last few months. From reaching the lowest point in his career after enduring a forgettable onslaught by Moeen Ali against him when representing Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 to sitting on the bench in the subsequent season, getting dropped from the national team and now redeeming himself, Kuldeep’s revival has been stunning to say the least.
The left-arm wrist spinner has brought back his magical wicket-taking quality which once made him a potent force for India and made KulCha (Kuldeep & Yuzvendra Chahal) a threatening duo in world cricket. A dip in form pushed back his career for few years but the spinner now seems to be back to his best.
Kuldeep is a lot fitter and has made a considerable change to his bowling style. Kuldeep is bowling closer to his body and has understood the art of varying pace to confuse the batter. This has made him a wicket-taking force in the middle overs, which India have missed dearly in the last few seasons in ODI cricket.
This India side under Rohit looks a lethal force when it has bowlers to take wicket in overs 11-40 as this phase of the game has been hugely challenging for the men in blue since the 2019 World Cup. But the relief may be in sight for the team in the form of Kuldeep Yadav.
After a couple of bad seasons where he took 8 wickets in 9 matches in 2020 & 2021 at an average of 72.25, Kuldeep has roared back in style taking 23 wickets in 13 ODIs since the start of 2022 and it has come at 23.21 runs apiece and an economy rate of 5. He has now become the go-to spinner for Rohit and a dip in form of Chahal has helped his case further.
His returns and stats will definitely boost India’s chances in the upcoming World Cup where they play as hosts.
Siraj – Leading full-member nation wicket-taker in ODIs since beginning of 2022
The other player whose performance in the white-ball leg has stood out is that of pacer Mohammed Siraj. Like Kuldeep, Siraj has come of age as a bowler and risen to be called the spearhead of India’s pace attack. In the Hyderabad pacer, India seem to have unearthed a genuine opening bowler who can make the ball the talk and gives the captain confidence of getting early breakthroughs.
After making a mark as a Test match bowler on the challenging overseas tours of Australia and England (where India did pretty well), Siraj has become a revelation of sorts in the white-ball format for the Indian team. If Kuldeep is India’s primary wicket-taker in the middle overs, Siraj does the same for Rohit in the powerplays.
Siraj has taken 38 wickets in 20 ODIs since the start of 2022 at an economy rate of 4.43, and is the leading wicket-taker among bowlers from the full-member nations of ICC. He is easily India’s most improved bowler in the white-ball format and has added many weapons to his armoury. His wobble seam ball is one of the toughest to pick as a batter, and he has a great knuckle ball to go with the potent outswingers and inswingers he already has in his arsenal.
More than the wickets, the enthusiasm and energy Siraj brings to the entire unit is something to be admired. In the recent ODIs against Sri Lanka (third ODI match of the series in Thiruvananthapuram), Siraj almost bowled 10 overs straight with the same energy and pace. His ruthlessness with the ball and work ethic has made him the number 3 ranked bowler in the ODI charts, something he would have never dreamed of after a lacklustre IPL 2022 season (9 wickets at 57 apiece from 15 games).
Now, Siraj is Rohit’s weapon in the powerplays and invariably picks a wicket or two in the first 10 overs. Siraj is at the top of the pecking order to partner Jasprit Bumrah when he comes back to the squad, and Mohammed Shami ahead of Umran Malik or Arshdeep Singh.
The Kuldeep-Siraj duo’s presence in the team is definitely a positive sign for India going forward in this format, and one can say with significant confidence that they have sealed their spots going into the world cup.
India play their next ODI at the iconic Wankhede Stadium against Australia on March 17. This will be the first of a three-match ODI series against the visitors, followed by games in Visakhapatnam and Chennai.