India’s all-format new captain Rohit Sharma has spoken of giving bowlers of the calibre of left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav more chances and keep their confidence going.
On Sunday at the Brabourne Stadium, though Rohit’s Mumbai Indians were at the receiving end of Kuldeep’s Delhi Capitals, he would have been pleased with the 23-year-old Uttar Pradesh bowler’s performances.
Making a return to IPL after missing 2021 due to knee injury, and also finding himself out of favour in the Indian team in recent times, Kuldeep showed that all’s well with him and his bowling by picking up three key wickets and going for miserly figures of three for 18 in his four overs.
Brought in to bowl by his Delhi Capitals captain Rishabh Pant in the seventh over after the Power Play saw Mumbai Indians score 53/0, Kuldeep tightened the screw around the MI batting. He bowled three overs in his first spell and conceded only 14 runs while picking up two wickets, those of Rohit Sharma, who pulled him to mid-wicket boundary, and Anmolpreet Singh, who hit him straight into the hands of long-off, Lalit Yadav.
Kuldeep, who began tidily by giving only three runs in his first over, came back to bowl the 16th over and dismissed the dangerous Kieron Pollard, whose pull was intercepted by Tim Seifert, diving to his left at square-leg.
Such was the impact of Kuldeep, operating from the North end of the Stadium in his opening spell, that the other bowlers from the Club House End also contained the runs. In the five-over span in which Kuldeep bowled his first spell, Delhi Capitals conceded only 32 runs even as MI opener Ishan Kishan was settling down to play a good fifty.
Kuldeep deservedly was given man of the match, though at one stage, with the way Delhi Capitals lost their top half in chasing 178, his efforts might have gone in vain.
Another wrist spinner who stole the show on the day was MI’s Murugan Ashwin. Not having played an IPL match since April 2021, when he turned out for Punjab Kings previously, the leg-spinner from Tamil Nadu picked up two wickets in his first over, bowling in the Power Play and finished with even more economical figures of 4-0-14-2.
Ashwin removed Seifert with a googly and then foxed Mandeep with a tossed-up full-toss that begged to be hit, only that it went straight to mid-on. Ashwin, like Kuldeep, bowled three overs in his first spell, conceding 11 runs and picking up those two wickets. He came back for his last over in the 12th and gave only 3.
Ashwin would have given Kuldeep a stiff competition for the man of the match award had Mumbai Indians defended their 177. But that was not to be, and Kuldeep had a rewarding day, and his confidence back.
In this year of the T20 World Cup, Kuldeep would do well to keep the performance going and secure a ticket on the flight to Australia this yearend.