2nd Test, Day 1: This is a team management call, says Umesh on Kuldeep omission for second Test

The biggest talking point from the second Test between India and Bangladesh came even before the proceedings began. Left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who was the Player of the Match in the 188-run victory at Chattogram, was omitted from the playing eleven for the second Test at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.

It left the cricket watchers in India and overseas baffled and extremely surprised over leaving out a bowler who took a five-fer last week in Chattogram and was a major catalyst of India winning a Test match.

Legendary India batter Sunil Gavaskar termed the decision to leave Kuldeep out of Dhaka Test as “unbelievable”, after stand-in captain KL Rahul said it was a hard decision to leave the spinner out of second Test. One wonders over the impact of such utterly surprising non-inclusions over Kuldeep’s confidence, especially after producing match-winning performances.

“It’s the team and the management call because sometimes you have to go with the requirement of the team, after seeing the wicket. It is part of the journey and has happened with me also. Sometimes you are performing and then sitting out of the team. This is a team management call. It’s good for him that he came back and did perform well in the previous match,” said fast bowler Umesh Yadav in the post-match press conference.

Bangladesh batting coach James Siddons admitted to Kuldeep being surprised over not playing in Dhaka Test, with the hosts’ retaining their three spinners and two pacers combination.

“We might not have read the wicket very well (in Dhaka) but we also didn’t read Kuldeep very well (in Chattogram). We are surprised that he didn’t play. I think it has been a pretty flat wicket for the fast bowlers.”

“It is turning and bouncing for the spinners so (it’s) harder against them. Ashwin got some unbelievable bounce and spin. We hope that our decision to play spinners is a good one. Having said that, Umesh (Yadav) got four wickets and (Jaydev) Unadkat got two.”

India could have picked Jaydev Unadkat over Kuldeep due to grassy nature of the pitch and the left-arm pacer was impressive in his accuracy and ability to extract extra bounce to pick two wickets as Bangladesh were bowled out for 227 on day one, with Umesh picking 4/25.

“It’s a 50-50 wicket. One odd ball is kicking from back of length, and if you bowl full it is not swinging or doing anything. There is no pace. Ashwin bowled with the new ball, and some of them turned. But not so much with the softer ball. It’s doing things in parts. It’s not fully (in favour) of the pacers or spinners. You have to be patient and keep bowling well in the right areas,” he added.

As a teenager, Unadkat had made his Test debut against South Africa at Centurion on December 16, 2010 and didn’t get to play any longer format match for India. In that Test match, he ended with figures of zero wickets for 101 as India lost by an innings and 25 runs.

Back in the Test fold after 12 years at Dhaka, Unadkat looked sharp and bowled with great control on his line and length. He was rewarded with wickets of Zakir Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim on the opening day of the match.

“I am very happy for him because when he debuted, I was also in South Africa at that time and were together. He got a chance after a long time, and was performing well in the domestic season. When he started off with the new ball, it was kicking up and he was able to constantly hit the glove of the batters and were doing a lot of things.”

“The plan was to bowl on length, but the wicket settled after some time. We know that Jaydev Unadkat is used to bowling on wickets like this because wickets in India have been like this for a long time.”

“He also has slight in and out swing, and the plan was to hit one area constantly and keep checking the patience of the batters to see for how long they can play without making any run. We were waiting for them to play a shot or do something different,” elaborated Umesh.

Each of the Bangladesh batters got starts on day one. But barring Mominul Haque’s stroke-filled and calm 84, where he looked good on front and back foot, none could convert it into a big score. They had five partnerships in double digits, but none of them were able to touch a half-century.

“People made mental errors again when they were set. The ball was spinning but the pace bowlers weren’t getting off a great deal. To let Umesh get (four) wickets was very disappointing,” concluded Siddons.

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