Kuldeep

Manchester: Cricketing pundits believe Kuldeep Yadav produced a ball for the new century when he bowled Babar Azam during the India-Pakistan game at Old Trafford on Sunday, 16 June 2019.

‘Kuldeep Yadav picks the perfect moment to deliver own ‘ball of the century’,’ declared The Times, London.

‘One of the great thrills of watching a global sporting event is the joy of witnessing the defining success of a player’s life; of pressing your nose up against the glass of a pivotal moment in another human’s existence. For the India wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, 24 and playing in his first World Cup, this had the feel of one of those days to which all the others have been building,’ wrote Times cricket writer James Gheerbrant.

This is the same place where Shane Warne announced his arrival on the cricketing world’s stage with his ball of the century, bamboozling Mike Gatting all ends up. 

It had all the characteristics of that Warne delivery which set the stage for the Australian’s illustrious career – flight, drift, dip and sharp turn. Of course, Kuldeep, who is a left-arm wrist-spinner, deceived his victim more with the drift than the turn, while Warne got his man through the unbelievable turn.

The victim in Kuldeep’s case was Pakistan’s premier batsman, Babar Azam, who was as clueless in his response to the ball as Gatting all those years ago. The ball curved away from the Pakistani right-hander initially because of the drift and just as it seemed that he had the line covered, the ball spun back viciously to dislodge Babar’s off-stump.

According to CricViz, Kuldeep’s delivery turned 5.8 degrees, beating Babar all end up in the process. While Babar certainly wasn’t expecting so much turn on a relatively placid Old Trafford surface, what really undid him was what had preceded the turn. As all spin bowling aficionados will tell you, it is the drift that accounts for most batsmen at the highest level. And Yadav certainly scored on that front, finding 2.96 degrees of drift to deceive the Pakistan No. 3.

Warne had got Gatting with a vicious turn of 14 degrees.

With that and Fakhar Zaman’s dismissal just eight balls later, Kuldeep virtually sealed the contest for India.

Even more impressively, Yadav’s performance came at a time when his confidence had visibly taken a hit. For Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, he had taken just four wickets in nine matches at an economy rate of 8.7. It led to him even being dropped from the team for the last five games.

However, as Pakistan agonizingly found out, his poor form in the IPL was a momentary blip. The drift, dip and turn that has seen him – alongside fellow leggie Yuzvendra Chahal – is certainly intact.