Why Kuldeep Yadav Deserves to Play the First Test Against England
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav has made a strong case for himself to be included in the playing eleven for the first Test against England after an excellent performance in the limited-overs leg of the tour. The 23-year-old has bamboozled batsmen with his googlies and guile in foreign conditions.
Even though Kuldeep has been taken to the cleaners in a couple of matches in this tour of England, he will still hold the mystery card against English Test batsmen such as Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings and Dawid Malan.
The Uttar Pradesh man has shown great promise in the two Tests he has played in his career so far. He has picked up 9 wickets at an average of 20.77.
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Ashwin and Jadeja’s Poor Overseas Record
India’s premier spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have generally struggled in unfavorable conditions. The Chennai bowler may have a career bowling average of 25.34, but he averages a dismal 50.74 in seamer-friendly conditions such as Australia, England and South Africa in 11 Tests. Jadeja on the other hand has recorded a bowling average of 46.16 in the Tests played in England, New Zealand and South Africa.
Ashwin's figures of 4/113 in the first innings of the second Test was his only standout performance in India’s tour of South Africa, earlier this year.
Kuldeep Yadav seems to enjoy bowling in foreign conditions as he picked up 17 wickets in the ODI series against South Africa earlier this year, figures of 5/24 in the first T20I against England and 6/25 in the first ODI against England. If Kuldeep can change the game with a white ball, then he can certainly cause problems with the red ball in similar conditions.
Kuldeep bowled for 23 overs in his first bowling innings in Test matches against Australia in 2017. He returned with figures of 4/68, showing that he can be consistent with his bowling for a long period of time as well.
India generally play one spinner along with four pacers in overseas Test matches. The spinner is usually a stock bowler, who builds pressure by holding up one end, so that the fast bowlers can use the pressure built to their advantage and pick up wickets. Sometimes, the spinner is brought into the attack for the fast bowlers to take a break.
If Kuldeep Yadav is the spinner on the field, he won’t just contain runs. Since he’s an attacking bowler, he would look to pick up wickets.
The chinaman bowler, who bowls from an unusual angle, uses the length of the pitch very well. He knows how to set up a batsman with flight and delivers the googly very effectively.
Batting Prowess – A Worry
The one skill that may not help Kuldeep get the nod for the first Test is batting. Ashwin and Jadeja have shown that they can hang around at the crease and help the Indian team bat out more time in the middle. With either Ashwin or Jadeja in the eleven, India can have a batting line-up which bats until number nine. Ashwin and Jadeja have decent career batting averages of 30.46 and 29.17 respectively.
Kuldeep Yadav, on the other hand, has not performed exceedingly well with the bat in international cricket. He averages less than 17 in each of the formats. However, since he has a first-class century to his name, he certainly has the skill set to hang around at the crease in a Test match.
If Kuldeep shows some batting prowess during practice sessions, then the team management will have no doubt but to pick Kuldeep Yadav as their spinner.