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Men’s ODI WC: Along with turn, pace of bowling also becomes very important, says Kuldeep Yadav

Chennai : In India’s six-wicket win over Australia in their 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup campaign opener, the spin troika of Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin combined to pick up six wickets in bowling out the visitors for 199.

Kuldeep, who took two wickets which included flattening Glenn Maxwell’s leg-stump, said apart from turn, the pace at which a spinner bowls on a spin-friendly pitch, also becomes very important.

“Important thing to see is, the wicket is turning at what pace. Sometimes you get a turn, but then it’s a slow one, which makes it easy for batting. It becomes very important for me to vary pace.”

“It wasn’t a slow turner today, but I had to increase my pace so as to not give time to batters. Like, in the Maxwell wicket, he didn’t get much time (to play at the ball), along with Smith’s scalp. So, I believe along with the turn, pace of bowling also becomes very important,” said Kuldeep to reporters in the mixed zone.

Sunday’s game continued Kuldeep’s spectacular 2023 in ODIs, with his tally of wickets up to 35 scalps in 18 games, averaging 16.31 and at an economy rate of 4.68. India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said he was extremely happy to see Kuldeep’s rise in ODIs this year.

“I am very happy with the way he’s progressed. The credit should be given to Kuldeep for the fact that he’s worked on it. Sometimes when you have a conversation like that with the bowler, you do get a self-realisation that what are the areas I need to work on – those kinds of conversations we have been having for a long time.”

“He’s worked on certain things, made those technical changes and you can see that in his bowling. The speeds have gone up, lines, lengths and areas have become better and in that sense, there are a lot of big ticks for us.”  

Kuldeep also credited the consistent usage of stump-to-stump bowling for getting Australia bowled out just below 200. “Especially in the ODI and white-ball formats, you just keep hitting the stumps, that’s very important for any spinner. When you play Tests, you can go wide.”

“But in the ODI format and restrictions on the field position, you just keep hitting the stump there’s a lot of chances for yourself to get wickets. That’s what we were trying, and we’ve been speaking to in meetings as well, just keep hitting the stumps.”  

Asked about the prospect of playing three spinners in other venues, Mhambrey said it was a far-fetched idea as it depends on other factors too. “When we looked at the wicket in the morning or even in the evening, it looked like a three-spinner pitch for us. There was definitely a little bit of spin, but playing three spinners will depend on what kind of wickets we get in other venues.”

Kuldeep, meanwhile, felt conditions in Chennai have been conducive for India to play three spinners, who took six wickets in their 30 overs combined at an economy rate of 3.47 . “We have had played a few games in Chennai and you can play with three spinners here. For other sides as well if you’ve got three quality spinners it becomes very difficult for our batting unit. Maxwell bowled really well, but didn’t get support from the other end.”

With Kuldeep’s left-arm wrist-spin, along with Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm orthodox spin and Ravichandran Ashwin’s off-spin, it makes for a very varied Indian spin line-up. “That’s the beauty of the game, isn’t it? In a team combination, you want variety and for us, all three spinners offer different kinds of options as well.”

“People like Ashwin and Jadeja can be used in first power-play or in middle-overs, plus Kuldeep is another option we can use too. In that sense, we get a lot of options and variety as a team for the captain,” added Mhambrey.

India’s pacers were amongst the wickets too, beginning from Jasprit Bumrah taking out Mitchell Marsh for a duck, followed by Mohammed Siraj and Hardik Pandya having a scalp each to end Australia’s innings in 49.3 overs.

“We have a very good combination as we have played Tests together. So, we have some ideas and moreover, everyone brings a different variety. With three quality spinners in, the mindset has always been to think about how to take out wickets. The way Bumrah and Siraj gave us start in the first power-play, which worked very well for us,” stated Kuldeep.

“Looking at the way they approached in the last few games, they went hard in the first ten overs. We knew the new, hard ball comes on to the wicket and the approach was very simple – both went hard, seamers as well as spinners. Faster bowlers getting wickets early made a difference – they got out Marsh early and it was important to pick that wicket at that stage,” concluded Mhambrey.

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