His stocky build seems more suited for the ring or mat of combat sports, and, even in cricket-crazy India, Yusuf Abdulla would have been unheard of before IPL II.
After going for 39 in three overs without a wicket in the first two games which his team lost, the Durban bowler has played a big role in Kings XI Punjab's resurgence. At the moment, he is the most successful bowler of the competition with 13 wickets in six matches.
The left-arm medium-pacer with roots in Surat is a fourth generation South African. In a chat with HT, Abdulla says he has devised ways of being successful in what he thinks is a batsman’s game.
Was it a surprise to be picked by the Kings XI?
It was because my international experience was limited before the IPL (one T20 international against Australia). After going unnoticed at the auctions, I thought my chance had gone. I was just hoping that if someone is not available for some reason - maybe injury, maybe national duty — my chance might come. That's exactly what happened (Kings XI first-choice overseas bowler Jerome Taylor got injured).
What did you tell yourself after the first two games?
It was a bad start but I was confident as both matches were truncated where I got just one over in the first game. When a team batting second has a reduced target to chase in six overs, it becomes tough for bowlers. I was waiting for a full game.
Did you try anything different in the subsequent games?
I have tried to mix it up and make it tougher. This largely means variations in length and pace. I have also tried to be on the stumps from the first ball and swing the ball upfront. The key to restrict batsmen in T20 is to take wickets.
Does T20 favour batsmen?
The format is such that batsmen do want to express themselves and even good balls can be hit for a four or six. At the same time, the wickets can sometimes have something for us as has been seen here a few times. Batsmen will try and slog every ball, which gives you a chance to take wickets if you stick to your plans.