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Kuldeep Yadav's grand debut: India's first chinaman spins web around Australia

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 25 March 2017, 19:00 IST
(AFP PHOTO/PRAKASH SINGH)

When 22-year-old Kuldeep Yadav took to the field today in the 4th Test Match of the ongoing India-Australia series, he became the 288th Test player to play for India.

Yadav, India's first ever chinaman (unorthodox left-arm spinner), and only the second chinaman ever from the subcontinent, made the occassion a day to remember, bamboozling the Aussie batsmen to return with a haul of four wickets on day 1 as the Australians were bowled out for exactly 300 at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium in Dharamsala.

Yadav began by taking the wicket of David Warner, an achievement that was clearly emotional for the young spinner from UP. Thereafter, the youngster dismissed Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, and, finally, Glenn Maxwell. When the Australian innings ended, Yadav was the pick of the bowlers with figures of four wickets for 68 runs.

With the Australians faring better than expected against spin in the ongoing series, Yadav's performance heralds the start of a promising international career. However, Yadav might never have made it to this point had it not been for one fateful decision taken by his childhood coach.

Pacer-turned-chinaman

Born on 14 December, 1994, Yadav started playing cricket in 2003 purely to raise his fitness levels. With idols like Pakistani legend Wasim Akram and Australian quickie Brett Lee, Yadav started out as a left-arm fast bowler. For the first four to five months of his training at the academy, Yadav used to belt out fast balls one after the other. His coach, Kapil Pandey, though, turned the fortunes of the young man from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

One day, Pandey arbitrarily decided that Yadav would no longer be a pace bowler. Instead, Yadav was made to bowl spin. His first ball was a chinaman. At the time, Yadav didn't even know what a chinaman delivery was, he just did what came naturally. Over time, Pandey worked with him to hone his 'natural' skills, and he never looked back.

Under-19 World Cup & Uttar Pradesh

Born on 14 December, 1994, Yadav started playing cricket in 2003 purely to raise his fitness levels. With idols like Pakistani legend Wasim Akram and Australian quickie Brett Lee, Yadav started out as a left-arm fast bowler. For the first four to five months of his training at the academy, Yadav used to belt out fast balls one after the other. His coach, Kapil Pandey, though, turned the fortunes of the young man from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

One day, Pandey arbitrarily decided that Yadav would no longer be a pace bowler. Instead, Yadav was made to bowl spin. His first ball was a chinaman. At the time, Yadav didn't even know what a chinaman delivery was, he just did what came naturally. Over time, Pandey worked with him to hone his 'natural' skills, and he never looked back.Yadav's first big moment was during the 2014 Under-19 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. While India eventually lost to England in the quarterfinals, Yadav was very impressive. His control and flight of the ball took batsmen by surprise, ending the tournament with 14 wickets -- the most by any Indian in the tournament -- at a very respectable average of 16.42.

His best performance in the tournament came against Scotland, and it was truly something special. Yadav picked up a hat-trick in the match and finished with figures of four wickets for just 10 runs. In doing so, he became the first bowler in under-19 history to take a hat-trick.

Following his success in the World Cup, Yadav was picked for the Uttar Pradesh team. In his maiden series, he picked up just 16 wickets. However, during the 2016-17 first-class season, Yadav took a mammoth 52 wickets, the highest among the UP bowlers. He was also the highest run-getter for UP during that season. These performances set him up nicely as an all-rounder.

What's even more impressive is that during the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy season, he played just eight matches for Uttar Pradesh. In those eight matches, he took 35 wickets.

Duleep Trophy

Playing for India Red in last November's Duleep Trophy at the Greater Noida stadium, Yadav took an impressive 9 wickets for 120 runs, helping his team register a 219-run win over India Green.

These were his best first-class figures, impressing all who were present at the stadium. Turning out for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the last IPL season, he took six wickets in the three matches he played.

Kuldeep in place of Virat Kohli

Yadav got his place in the starting XI due to an injury to captain Virat Kohli, who was reduced to bringing out the drinks. In fact, while we've now seen Yadav as a bowler on the international stage for the very first time, day 2 or day 3 of the Test match could be an indicator of whether Team India has truly found the all-rounder it desperately needs.

First published: 25 March 2017, 18:59 IST
 
Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla

Sahil is a correspondent at Catch. A gadget freak, he loves offering free tech support to family and friends. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York and worked previously for Scroll. He selectively boycotts fast food chains, worries about Arsenal, and travels whenever and wherever he can. Sahil is an unapologetic foodie and a film aficionado.

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