Cricket, as they say, is more of a mental sport. When you are down and out and things are not heading in right direction, even a slight spark on the field at times can turn everything around drastically. It is all about gaining self-belief and confidence as a cricketer. And from this point of view, Kuldeep Yadav's three-for against Bangladesh in the warm-up fixture in Cardiff, is quite significant for India's scheme of things in this 2019 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Following a dismal show in the IPL and a wicket-less outing in the first practice game against New Zealand, the left-arm chinaman bowler finally found light at the end of a long tunnel on Tuesday, when he put up a heartening performance with the ball. On a pitch, which hardly offered any purchase for the slow bowlers, his wrist-spin accounted for three Bangladeshi batsmen, that too at crucial junctures of the match. Initially, he was not at his best, but in his second spell the spinner certainly seemed like getting his mojo back prior to the start of India's campaign in this World Cup.
With so many tricks up his sleeve, an in-form Kuldeep is an asset to this Indian line-up. With his unorthodox skills, Kuldeep is always considered as an attacking option. In the recent years, his partnership with leggie Yuzvendra Chahal has provided the Indian bowling a brand new dimension, especially in the middle-overs. However, Kuldeep's lack of form coming into the World Cup, was a major cause of concern for the team management. Before heading towards Southampton for their inaugural fixture against South Africa, the Indian think-tank desperately wanted Kuldeep to get back in the grooves.
Against New Zealand in the first warm-up encounter at the Oval on Saturday, Kuldeep bowled 8.1 overs but hardly posed any threat to the opponent. So, this particular encounter against Bangladesh was his last chance to make an impression and stay in race for a spot in the playing XI against the Proteas on 5 June.
And the much awaited turnaround came when it matted the most.
Right after the first powerplay, when Bangladesh were trying to recover following the wickets of Soumya Sarkar and Shakib Al Hasan in consecutive deliveries, Virat Kohli introduced Kuldeep into the attack. It was an ideal time for him to bowl as batsmen were on the back-foot. But in his first spell of five overs, the left-armer didn't trouble Liton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim much. He was trying to give the ball some air but failed to hit the right areas. As a result, the batsmen were gifted with quite a few over-pitched deliveries.
However, in the next spell, Kuldeep came back strongly. Right in the first over, he castled Mahmudullah, who looked to come down the pitch. The ball spun back sharply and hit the timber. And finally the bowler had something to cheer for. That wicket meant a lot, not just for the tweaker but also for the entire team which was quite evident from the celebrations.
Eventually, Kuldeep's gained more confidence as his body language improved. All of a sudden he transformed into a completely different bowler as he rediscovered his flight and loop. The ball was coming out of the hand nicely as he got both the legbreak and the wrong'un going, which was enough to bamboozle the Bangladeshi batsmen.
In his ten overs, Kuldeep got rid of a set Mushfiqur and Mosaddek Hossain in back-to-back deliveries. He outfoxed the batsmen with two different balls, which spun in opposite directions. Mushfiqur got a well flighted delivery which came in to hit the stumps, whereas Mosaddek was outsmarted by a wrong'un and got himself stumped. In his second spell of five overs, the bowler had the figures of 3 for 22.
From India's point of view, this resurgence of Kuldeep has come just at the right time. Though this was only a warm-up game, and it will be premature to jump to any conclusion regarding his selection in the XI in Southampton, this performance will certainly boost his confidence level and it will certainly keep the 24-year old in contention.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Now in charge of the National Cricket Academy, Dravid has played a key role in producing the next generation of cricketers and a reserve pool which is the envy of India's opponents.
India will travel to Sri Lanka for a limited-overs tour next month and the BCCI announced a 20-man squad for the tour, packed with youngsters, including six uncapped players.
The WTC final against New Zealand will be held from 18-22 June at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton and the members of the Indian squad will disperse for close to three weeks (20 days) before regrouping on 14 July.