The Curious Case of Kuldeep Yadav – Impeccable till before 2019 World Cup; Indifferent hence

Updated: Jul 26

Story of a young chinaman bowler who rose to the greater heights and then vanished.

India vs Sri Lanka 2021: Kuldeep Yadav played in first two ODIs and could bagged only 2 wickets.
Kuldeep Yadav once considered as a natural wicket taker. (Photo: AP)

A 22-year-old unorthodox left-arm spinner from Kanpur made his debut for the Indian Test team in the 2017 Dharamsala Test against Australia. The home series was tied going into the 4th and final Test where India lost the toss and were asked to field. Australia had raced up to a score of 144-1, scoring at a run rate of above 4 on the first day, with their stalwarts David Warner and Steve Smith batting well as they had built up a 134-run partnership.

The debutant Kuldeep Yadav, in his 4th over of the spell, got the ball to spin away from a full length to have David Warner caught at slip by India’s stand in captain Ajinkya Rahane for 56. Kuldeep went on to take 4 wickets while conceding 68 runs in that innings dismissing Peter Handscomb, Glen Maxwell, Pat Cummins along with Warner as Australia managed just 300 runs in the first innings from a solid position of 144-1 at one stage. India won that Test and the series 2-1 against Australia due to a brilliant team effort.

Kuldeep Yadav was the new ace in India’s pocket; he bowled with strong revs behind the ball, immaculate top-spin and googly variations along with a natural ability to dip or drift, painting a picture of immense promise to serve the Indian team well and long. But in recent years, the promise seems to be dimmed by an underwhelming result from the spinner. Kuldeep has only played 2 Test matches and 4 ODIs this year, out of which the last two were against Sri Lanka recently. So, what happened?

The Rise of Kuldeep Yadav

After his first few stellar performances, he was enlisted into the ODI set up as India pushed towards having more attacking wrist spin bowling options within their ranks to set up their team for the 2019 World Cup.

ODI Stats

Kuldeep’s numbers in the two years preceding the World Cup were staggering. He averaged 24.8 in 2017 and improved to 17.8 the next year with an economy 4.64. He also managed to take the most number of international wickets for any bowler since his debut.