India‘s left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav is one of the most effective bowlers in limited overs cricket. His variations have seen him upstage established spinners like Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and push the two out of the Indian set-up in the company of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
But when it comes to red-ball cricket, the scenario is quite different.
Yadav was included in the Test squad in England after mesmerising England batsmen in the T20 and ODI series. He picked up a five-for in the first T20 against England and a six-for in the first ODI to push his way into the Indian Test team mix. However, the Indian team misread conditions in the first two Tests and got the combination wrong.
Kuldeep Yadav as a matter of fact has a very average first class record.— cricket freak (@cricloverakku) September 5, 2018
He was solely selected on the basis of white ball cricket and being a Chinaman.
He averages 32 with the ball. https://t.co/L4lTIO2jbJ
The pitch in Birmingham offered help to spinners and India went in with just Ravi Ashwin. The wicket at Lord’s for the second match turned out to be a seamer’s paradise but India inexplicably fielded two in Ashwin and Yadav.
The 23-year-old Yadav looked out of sorts as he got a pair and bowled nine overs without success and went for 44 runs.
The Indian management admitted it was a mistake playing Yadav and that seems to have affected his confidence. Now playing for India ‘A’, the ghost of England has followed the wrist spinner.
India ‘A’ lost the unofficial Test to Australia ‘A’ by 98 runs in Bengaluru. In the match, Australia’s left-arm finger spinner Jon Holland picked up nine wickets with six in the second to script a superb win for the visitors.
Yadav, however, only managed four wickets in the match and all of them were of lower order batsmen or tail-enders.
While Ashwin can give the excuse of playing in England, albeit helpful pitches, while nursing a hip injury, Yadav’s efforts at home against a team that has a traditional weakness against any sort of quality spin will not inspire any confidence.
According to quotes published by ESPNcricinfo, Kuldeep said he needs more game time in first-class matches to improve his consistency.
“You have to change your mindset when you come to play with the red ball,” Yadav said. “You need to be very patient. You’re not going to take wickets every time you come up to bowl. For me it’s very important to be patient and not to try too much.”
It is not just the senior Indian team that is struggling to chase down fourth-innings totals in red-ball cricket.
The Indian team lost the Pataudi Trophy to England 3-1 by losing the fourth match in Southampton by 60 runs. India failed to hunt down 245 in the fourth Test and 194 in the first in Birmingham to continue the trend of the men in blue failing to achieve fairly gettable targets.
Now it looks the team below them in the Indian set-up has also caught the bug. The India ‘A’ team lost the unofficial Test to Australia ‘A’ in Bengaluru in almost identical fashion as their senior team did in Southampton.
In Bengaluru, India ‘A’ restricted the Aussies to 243 in the first innings with pacer Mohammed Siraj picking up 8-59. Then the hosts managed to take a first-innings lead by scoring 274 thanks to a fighting 91 from Ankit Bawne.
The Aussie batting fared better in the second innings with Travis Head’s 87 taking the score to 292 and giving India a target of 262.
However, India ‘A’ batsmen fell dramatically at the final hurdle as left-arm spinner Jon Holland picked up 6-81 to seal a 98-run victory.
Holland outbowled India international wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav in the match, picking up nine wickets compared to the Indian’s four. In the Southampton Test, it was England offie Moeen Ali who outbowled his counterpart Ravi Ashwin hands down.
So it would be fair to say fourth-innings chases in any sort of Test is a challenge for Indian batting.
The fifth and final Test starts on Friday and Virat Kohli is likely to make a few changes to the team. While there is the case of India going in with their tried and tested players to make the scoreline 3-2 and not 3-1 or 4-1, the fact remains some members of the XI have failed more often than not over the course of the four Tests.
In such a scenario, the management will be tempted to try out a few members of the squad who have been on the bench.
The first name on top of every Indian cricket fan’s mind is teenage opener Prithvi Shaw. The 18-year-old has enjoyed a stellar season, guiding the India U-19 team to World Cup glory early in the year and scoring heavily in first-class matches. In 14 first-class matches of his debut season, Shaw has cracked seven centuries.
In his last four first-class matches for India ‘A’ – two each in England and India – Shaw hit two centuries and one fifty at the top of the order against sides like West Indies A, South Africa A and England Lions. Given the praise Shaw has received from many Indian greats, there is a good chance of him making his Test debut in the fifth game.
According to reports, KL Rahul is likely to be axed from the side after managing just 113 runs from eight innings. While Rahul has been exception in the slip region, taking 11 catches, the fact is he has looked extremely vulnerable against the moving ball. Since Shaw is a proper opener, he should make the cut with Shikhar Dhawan keeping his spot as he is a left-hander and has looked a bit more composed than Rahul.
The other change that is likely to happen is the return of left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja. The pitch for the fourth Test in Southampton had a lot of rough and assistance for spinners. England’s Moeen Ali snared nine wickets while India ace off-spinner Ravi Ashwin struggled to land successive balls on the same spot.
It is believed Ashwin carried the groin/hip injury he picked up in the third Test to the fourth match. His lack of effectiveness hurt the team the most and the Indian management are likely to bring in Jadeja who offers a lot more stability with line and length.
The next three batsmen in the nets for India: Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw, Ravindra Jadeja... pic.twitter.com/43lp8tQ9nc— Arjun Bhardwaj (@ArjunB_74) September 5, 2018
Hardik Pandya should retain his spot as he has the fourth-highest run tally among Indian batsmen and has snared 10 wickets.
The Indian team trained at The Oval on Wednesday and looking at the order of players who turned out to bat, both Shaw and Jadeja should be in the XI.
According to reports, Shaw and Jadeja were in the second batch of batsmen who took to the nets, raising the prospect of their selection.