Spinner Kuldeep running out of time

Chinaman spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who has played just one Test, three ODIs and no T20 International in the last 16 months, is running out of time to make it to India’s T20 World Cup squad.

The series in Sri Lanka, comprising three ODIs and three T20 Internationals may be his last chance but for a bowler ‘out of rhythm’ like him, white-ball format can be tough.

That apart, he has to compete with five other spinners in six games.

“We talk of three Ds that go into making a player successful — discipline, dedication and determination. But we ignore two Ds — depression and demoralisation — that can hit a player who is not getting backing from the team management and not being given chances. This is what is happening to Kuldeep,” his longtime coach Kapil Pandey told IANS.

“Kuldeep hasn’t got chance to play at all. He needs support. He had taken five wickets in Australia (in January, 2019 in fourth Test in Sydney), but he didn’t get a single Test to play after that,” he added.

The wrist spinner has struggled in ODIs, the format that India play first up in Sri Lanka from Sunday. In 29 overs in three ODIs over the last 16 months, he has conceded 209 runs at a rate of 7.2. In the last ODI, he played, he leaked 84 runs in 10 overs against England.

Former India spinner and national selector Venkatapathy Raju says Kuldeep is struggling for rhythm. He says lack of match practice is the reason behind his struggles.

“He needs to bowl long spells. White ball cricket is very tough, if you are not in rhythm, it can be very harsh. I am a big fan of Kuldeep. He is a genuine match-winner, and so is Chahal, but he needs some matches to find rhythm,” explained Raju to IANS.

“I am a firm believer he should go back and play 3-day or 4-day games. Unfortunately for him, there is not much domestic cricket going on. He should be playing a couple of matches. We know he is a very young guy,” added Raju.

Raju gives the example of Shane Warne, the former Australian leg-spinner.

“Someone like Shane Warne, when he was struggling he went and played a second division match in Victoria. He just picked two wickets,” he added.

“Unfortunately, the scheduling of international matches is so cramped, you don’t find time to play these games.”

One of the reasons why Raju feels the Chinaman bowler should be playing 3-day or 4-day domestic games is because of the atmosphere it provides.

“You are more comfortable in the atmosphere, get relaxed. You enjoy that atmosphere and come back. He doesn’t have to pick wickets, just get that rhythm. In such games, he can bowl longer spells, take a break and come back again,” said Raju who represented India in 28 Tests and 53 ODIs.

Pandey says whenever Kuldeep was given a chance recently, it came on flat pitch. He feels the team management let him down by ignoring him as replacement for Ravindra Jadeja and calling Shahbaz Nadeem from outside in the home Test series against England in February-March.

“If the captain, coach think they will play two spinners [against England] and you also have one back-up spinner in the squad for an injured one, but you call one from outside, play him and ignore Kuldeep. They could have given him a chance,” said Pandey.

Kuldeep has struggled in getting overs in IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders too.

“Ever since they changed the Kolkata pitch, spinners like Kuldeep and Sunil Narine struggled in IPL. Kuldeep has been struggling to get overs for KKR since then,” added Raju.