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Kuldeep Yadav provides India X factor as Virat Kohli eyes sustained success

India’s recent success has been the opening batsmen’s slow and steady laying of a foundation or using spinners in the middle overs to pick wickets and this set pattern has reaped rewards for Virat Kohli’s side despite some losses

india vs west indies 2017 Updated: Jun 26, 2017 15:56 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Port of Spain
India vs West Indies,India national cricket team,West Indies cricket team
Kuldeep Yadav had a good debut in the second ODI against West Indies in Port of Spain as he picked up 3/50 to give India a 105-run victory.(AFP)

Despite recent losses to Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the ICC Champions Trophy, India have looked a settled unit and kept faith with the processes they’ve been following. Whether it has been the opening batsmen’s slow and steady laying of a foundation or using spinners in the middle overs to pick wickets, the set pattern has paid dividends to Virat Kohli’s side.

Both those losses in England could have easily triggered panic in the side. But the resolve and self-belief skipper Virat Kohli seems to be have is helping the team stay calm.

So, when the Indian juggernaut rolled over West Indies in the second One-day International at the Queen’s Park Oval on Sunday, it brought a big smile to the skipper’s face.

One of the issues India have faced is the performance of spinners in the middle overs, even while seamers have done their job. Bhuvneshwar Kumar provided the early breakthroughs again in the second ODI on Sunday, as he’s been doing.

Struggle in England

However, in the Champions Trophy, spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who struggled against the Asian nations Pakistan and Sri Lanka, struggled to find their rhythm.

Bangladesh too had a measure of them before committing harakiri in the semifinals. But the spinners were expected to put pressure on the opposition, but could not.

So, off went Jadeja and in came young chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, whose inclusion had reportedly played a part in stoking the differences between Kohli and Anil Kumble, who stepped down as head coach after the Champions Trophy.

Kuldeep Yadav made his Test debut against Australia in the Test match in Dharamsala. (AFP)

Kohli, it is learnt, had been backing Kuldeep, and on Sunday, while answering a question on middle overs and spinners after the win over West Indies, called the chinaman bowler his trump card.

Most teams have wrist spinners in their ranks and the absence of one has probably hurt India. They don’t have a leg spinner, and so Kuldeep is the best option available.

Finding success

The 22-year-old was the most successful bowler on Sunday, claiming three for 50 and showing assurance.

“A wrist spinner is always a bonus, something we have identified now in this series. All kinds of options are open (ahead of the World Cup 2019),” the skipper said, adding there are a pool of spinners who will be tested in the next couple of years.

Shikhar Dhawan has carried his great form from the Champions Trophy into the series against West Indies. (AFP)

“We’ll see how they react in pressure situations and who is able to make more impact through the middle overs for us,” Kohli said.

The India skipper felt Kuldeep provides the X factor. “It becomes difficult when he (Kuldeep) bowls cross-seam deliveries turning both ways. Usually, spinners bowl seam-up deliveries turning in and the googly cross-seam, but he can do both with cross-seam and that becomes more difficult to pick from the wrist. And when batsmen try to attack, he can slow his pace down, beat the batsman halfway into the pitch.”

Openers solid

The other good bit about the Indian team has been the performance of the openers. Despite the change – Ajinkya Rahane has come in for the rested Rohit Sharma as Shikhar Dhawan’s partner in this series – the tactics adopted in the Champions Trophy continues to be followed.

The openers have compiled century partnerships in two successive matches. They have complemented each other well. On Sunday, Rahane began aggressively but dropped anchor when Dhawan got into the flow.

First Published: Jun 26, 2017 15:54 IST