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Kuldeep Yadav - India's Test novelty

Kuldeep Yadav dismissed Peter Handscomb, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins
Kuldeep Yadav dismissed Peter Handscomb, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins © AFP
Off the 219 players who have bowled at least one ball in Tests for India, there hasn't been even one chinaman bowler. Fast, fast-medium, medium-fast, medium, right arm, left-arm, leg-spinner, off-spinner, left arm orthodox - there has been scores of players for each style, but never a chinaman.
Chinaman, for the uninitiated, is a type of left-arm wrist spinner whose stock ball comes into the right-hander. Chinaman bowlers are quite rare. There are only a handful of such bowlers who have played at the highest level, with Garry Sobers the most prominent name in the list. In fact, not more than 30 chinaman bowlers have bowled in Test cricket, and fewer still have been out-and-out bowlers.
Kuldeep Yadav became yet another chinaman bowler in Tests, and celebrated that with a superb performance. It showed the X-factor India had missed in the series, with Kuldeep ending the first day with figures of four for 68, to restrict Australia to 300 by stumps on the opening day. He did all this on an opening-day pitch against a team that had won the toss.
"I think people find it difficult as normally they don't bowl chinaman. When I started my natural action was chinaman and I had no clue that this is called chinaman or there existed an art called chinaman. It was a new thing but then I enhanced my skill further. It is difficult to bowl chinaman. You need to work. As a leg spinner, if you don't get the spot, you will be hit. It's just that leg-spinner and chinaman are similar forms of bowling with one being right handed and other left handed," Kuldeep said, about how he honed his art.
Kuldeep doesn't really like cricket, but for someone who doesn't like the sport, he's really good at it. He was forced into the game more because his father loved it. Kuldeep was always more inclined towards academics. When he did play, he wanted to become a fast bowler. His coach had other ideas, and Kuldeep had the trust and the talent to back his coach's call. At the age of 22, he became India's 288th Test cricketer, and ended the day with four wickets.
India's spin strength is the best in the world, bar none. Their reserves until today, Amit Mishra and Jayant Yadav, are not bad replacements either. However, the emergence of Kuldeep would give them utmost glee.
Playing Kuldeep is a challenge in itself, a completely different one. None of the players will be too accustomed to playing a chinaman bowler for long, and Kuldeep's accuracy and guile make him an even bigger threat. A point underlined by Matthew Wade, who made a fifty in the Australian innings.
"Yeah, it took a couple of balls to get used to (playing Kuldeep). He bowled a lot of different deliveries. He bowled a lot of leg-spinners with the scrambled seam, his wrong 'un was scrambled seam as well. It took a few balls to get used to it, but once you stayed out there a little while, you got a read on him," Wade said at the end of the day.
A wrist spinner is always susceptible with the odd short ball or the long hop, but Kuldeep showed that he is not cut from the same cloth. Kuldeep always errs on the fuller side, and that for a spinner will never be as big a problem as dropping it short. He keeps the ball full, and gets the batsman to drive. He slips in the googly and the flipper at around the same length, too, but does not overuse the variation.
He can be a workhorse, too, a trait that has become his strength thanks to hours of hard work in the nets as a kid. And he seems to have a good cricketing brain that makes the right decisions.
The 22-year-old ended with four wickets on Saturday, but each one showed a new dimension. He had David Warner out with a flipper. He lured Handcomb into the drive and spun the ball back in sharply to castle the stumps. He bamboozled Glenn Maxwell with a wrong 'un and he got Pat Cummins playing an uppish drive. Most of the dismissals were the way he had planned, he said at the end of the day.
"All four are precious scalps and first one (Warner) is very special. Next two (Handscomb and Maxwell) were satisfying as you got it exactly how you had visualized their dismissal. I don't think about batsman much as I have confidence in my skills. Even if I would have got hit, I think how I wanted to bowl, whether I have been able to back my skill, use the variations I wanted," he added.
Kuldeep's already precocious skill has been fine tuned by Shane Warne. Kuldeep added that he used the tips that Warne gave him to dismiss David Warner, and that the dismissal was of one from Warne's country, made it all the more special.
His sudden success at the Test stage has been backed by years of disappointment. He had been rejected as a player during the Under-15 state trials. He was not rated highly by his state Ranji team and wasn't picked. His father and coach stood by him then, and they continue to do so now. Now, Kuldeep has shown that he can't easily be written off.
"My personal coach always told me that you will get lot of wickets when you play so he was a bit upset that I wasn't being picked (previously). I assured him that I will be getting my chance for sure because I had confidence after I bowled in the nets."
"When you perform season after season and you don't get chances, you need someone who can motivate you. My father and childhood coach (Kapil Pandey) they motivated me. Some senior players also. This season also went off well. Hence here I am sitting in-front of you guys. It's happened (India debut) at last even though it took some time," he added.
Finally, Kuldeep's destiny is in his own hands. His performances will be limited, but if he continues to do what he did on his first day in international cricket, it won't stay that way.
He maybe Indian cricket's great new novelty, but there is a lot more of Kuldeep Yadav that world would see soon.

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