Kuldeep Yadav may be a young bowler finding his feet at the international arena but the 22-year-old Chinaman bowler has already made one of Australia’s premier batsmen, David Warner, his bunny. So far in his career, the youngster has bowled to him on six occasions and got him out four times. Two out of those four dismissals have come in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Incredibly, on the two occasions he has bowled to the Australian in international cricket, he has ended up scalping his wicket.
Left-arm wrist spin is considered to be a rare art in international cricket. So, if you haven’t played against these bowlers before one might find it very hard to read them and that is exactly what is happening to Warner against Kuldeep.
Being a left-handed batsman, Warner might not have faced a left-arm spinner turning the ball away from him too often. Thus, despite his excellent record against spinners, he is yet to get a measure of this young Chinaman bowler.
If one sees the manner of dismissals, it is crystal-clear that the Australian opener is having issues reading Kuldeep off the hand. He is not sure which way the ball will spin. So, he tries to read him off the pitch, which is forcing him to play him mostly off the backfoot. That is exactly what the bowler wants him to do. In fact, Kuldeep is planning the dismissals based on this trap. He is pushing him on the backfoot and then outfoxing him with his variations.
Warner is always a prized scalp. But given the relative inexperience of this Australian team, the batting department is very much dependent on him and Steven Smith on these turning tracks. If one particular bowler has the number of either of these two, then it is a clear advantage for the opponent.
In fact, Kuldeep feels exactly that. He believes Warner is under pressure while facing him and it has worked in favour of the tweaker so far.
"If you are consistently getting the better of a player, you do think that you want to get him out as soon as you can. You're not under pressure while bowling to that player. It's the same for Warner; I think that he puts pressure on himself while facing me, thinking that I might get his wicket," Kuldeep told reporters ahead of India's second ODI of the ongoing five-match series at the Eden Gardens.
“I enjoy bowling at him, since I do so without taking any stress and with the confidence that I can dismiss him. I come up with a proper plan as to how I should go about doing that. That's what I've been doing, and hopefully, I get to dismiss him as many times as I can in the remaining four matches,” he added.
One must admit, despite his limited experience at the big stage, the youngster is executing the plans brilliantly.
In Chennai, Kuldeep got Warner out with a slider that went straight through the line with the batsman going for a cut and getting a big outside edge to the wicketkeeper MS Dhoni. Before that in his debut Test at Dharamshala earlier this year, Kuldeep outfoxed the Australian opener as well. He tried to play from the backfoot, the ball took the edge off the bat and Ajinkya Rahane took a regulation catch at first slip. In fact, that was Kuldeep’s first Test scalp.
Previously in the IPL also, Gautam Gambhir attacked Warner with Kuldeep early in his innings and enjoyed significant amount of success against him.
So, when Warner will come out to bat in the second ODI, the pressure will be on him to prove a point against Kuldeep.
However, there has been a tinge of green at the wicket at the Eden Gardens which will be used for Thursday’s fixture. Because of the rain around in Kolkata and grass on the pitch, it is not expected to turn much, which provides a new challenge for Kuldeep. Here he won’t get any assistance from the deck so he has to think out of the box to trouble the Australian batsmen, especially Warner.
We should brace ourselves for an interesting battle between the duo.