The young left-arm wrist-spinner picked up a five-wicket haul in the first T20I at Manchester before following it up with a six-wicket burst in the ODI opener at Nottingham. His limited-overs displays have seen India name a three-man spin contingent in their Test squad with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja also forming a part of the 18-man effort.
The transition to red-ball cricket, however, will not be easy for Kuldeep according to former England skipper Alec Stewart.
“All of a sudden, he won’t have four men at the boundary. He will have four men around the bat, and the batsmen don’t have to try and score with a positive intent. Can he bowl enough good balls and ask questions of the batsmen as he had done in white-ball cricket?” Stewart was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
“In ODIs and T20Is, you can get away with bad balls with batsmen getting caught off full tosses or sweep slogging caught at deep midwicket. Would Kuldeep have those fields in a Test? Would batsmen play those types of shots? No, instead, it will be a game of cat and mouse and it remains to be seen if Kuldeep can make those adjustments for Test cricket in England,” the former wicketkeeper-batsman added.
Kuldeep’s impact waned down considerably as the limited-overs clashes progressed and Stewart believes that England have started getting a handle on the wrist-spinner’s mystery.
“A mystery spinner creates doubts if you haven’t faced much of him, and it makes for great cricket when the batsmen are trying to figure out from 18-22 yards, which way it will go. But England, especially Joe Root, started to work out Kuldeep since Lord’s and the question is how Kuldeep is going to bowl in Test cricket,” Stewart remarked.
Despite his reservations, Stewart believes India skipper Virat Kohli will be tempted to go with Kuldeep over Ashwin and Jadeja in the Tests.
“Virat, as a captain, is very positive and will back an attacking bowler. He will possibly believe that Kuldeep has more to offer than Ashwin or Jadeja, and then that’s the route Virat will take. And then the wrist spinner has to perform, and replicate with the red ball what he has done with the white ball. We won’t know until he (Kuldeep) is given a go,” he said.
West Indies crashed to a 48-run defeat in the opening one-day international against Bangladesh in Guyana.
The tourists set a challenging target of 280 after opening batsman Tamim Iqbal hit an unbeaten 130 and compiled a second-wicket partnership of 207 with Shakib Al Hasan, who made 97.
After West Indies talisman Chris Gayle was run out for 40, his team never remotely threatened to challenge, despite Shimron Hetmyer making 52 off 78 balls.
They finished on 231 for nine after 50 overs, with Mashrafe Mortaza proving the pick of Bangladesh’s bowlers, taking four for 37.
The second match of the three-game series begins on Wednesday at the same venue.
One of the stars of the superb batting performance was Babar Azam who remained unbeaten on 106. The 23-year-old has only recently made his return from the elbow injury he sustained during Pakistan’s tour of England in May this year.
Here, we take a closer look at the right-hander’s stellar unbeaten knock.
Babar Azam walked into the crease after Pakistan openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq had laid another solid platform. The batsman kept the runs ticking in characteristic fashion with some excellent placement and good running between the wickets. Once he went past his half-century, Babar took the attack to the Zimbabwe bowlers as he sped his way to a 72-ball ton which is his eighth overall in ODI cricket. He remained unbeaten till the end to lead Pakistan’s march in the death overs.
Fastest to EIGHT ODI Hundreds:— Saad 🇵🇰 (@ImSaadAwais22) July 22, 2018
43 Innings - Hashim Amla 🇿🇦
44 Innings - Babar Azam 🇵🇰
52 Innings - Quinton de Kock 🇿🇦
57 Innings - Shikhar Dhawan 🇮🇳
Babar Azam scored last 50 Runs off just 17 Balls.
Champion Knock from a Champion Batsman #PAKvZIM #ZIMvPAK pic.twitter.com/CA1dNlcN5L
If Virat Kohli is the perfect example of how to construct an ODI innings, Babar is not far behind. Not one to turn to the expansive strokes straight away, the Pakistan man relied more on his placement and excellent timing at the start of his innings. His first half-century of the series arrived in 55 balls and just 17 balls later, he was raising his bat for his century celebration. He accelerated at just the right time as boundaries flowed in the death overs. He made boundary-hitting look effortless in the second-half of his innings.
There is hardly anything to fault in Babar’s innings on Sunday. The only minor criticism that can be aimed at his innings is that he could have been more adventurous at the start given the platform that had already been set. However, the flourish at the end of his innings where he went from 50 to 100 in just 17 balls makes that point moot.
Eighth ODI hundred for Babar Azam!— Cricbuzz (@cricbuzz) July 22, 2018
First 57 balls - 53 runs
Next 16 balls - 51 runs #ZIMvPAK
VERDICT – 9/10
Like a master craftsman, Babar knows who to construct a batting masterpiece. Few in world cricket have the knack of making run-scoring look so easy without relying on the big hits. Only Kohli and Joe Root can lay claim to similar abilities. Babar’s century on Sunday is just the latest in a string of fine ODI innings he has played since making his debut. It was his first big knock since return from injury and will do his personal confidence a world of good.