How Kuldeep Yadav the batter contributed to India's series win over England

How Kuldeep Yadav the batter contributed to India's series win over England
Image source: BCCI

Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh: Among the leading wicket-takers for India in the ongoing Test series against England, wily chinaman Kuldeep Yadav has taken some crucial, yet unnoticed, forward strides as a lower-batter, coming up with handy contributions with the willow when the team required him to hold the fort.

In the first innings of the ongoing fifth and final Test, Kuldeep frustrated English bowlers with yet another lengthy stay at the crease just when the visitors entertained thoughts of a comeback of sorts after claiming some quick wickets following a run-fest by the top-order. He made 30 off 69 balls, with two fours. However, more than the runs he put on the board, it was his occupation of the crease that contributed to the Indian cause.

Kuldeep was involved in a 49-run partnership for the ninth wicket with Jasprit Bumrah, who, too, came up with a handy score of 20. The hosts led England by 259 as they closed their first innings at 477 runs, in reply to the visitors' score of 218 in the first dig.

Kuldeep faced 362 balls across six innings throughout the series, more than the 357 balls faced by English skipper Ben Stokes and 290 fronted by one of their premier batters, Johnny Bairstow. The number of balls that Kuldeep safely negotiated across the series was only marginally less than the 400 balls faced by opener Ben Duckett all through the series.

The spinner aggregated 97 runs across six matches in the ongoing series at an average of 19.4, with the best score of 30. He had scores of 8*, 0, 4, 27, 28 and 30 in the series. These 97 runs were worth their weight in gold considering how the series panned out.

Though yet to record a batting milestone against his name in his still-young Test career, his lengthy occupation of the crease and ability to come up with handy contributions lower down the order put the hosts firmly on the road to a series win. The demonstration of his batting ability augurs well for India, with leading spin-bowling all-rounders Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the twilight of their careers.

During the third Test at Rajkot, it was Kuldeep's knock of 27 runs that helped Shubman Gill play freely from one end and score 91 runs, laying the platform for Yashasvi Jaiswal to score a double ton and for Sarfaraz Khan to score his back-to-back fifties on Test debut. Eventually, India out-batted England, setting them a mammoth target of 557 runs. England was bundled out for 122 runs, falling well short of the target.

In the fourth Test at Ranchi as well, India were in trouble at 177/7 in reply to England's first innings total of 353 runs when Kuldeep's 76-run stand with Dhruv Jurel (90 runs) and his crucial 28 runs brought the hosts back into the game. Though India trailed by 46 runs at the close of their first innings, they could overcome the deficit on the back of handy contributions from the lower order.

The hosts then came to the party with the ball, riding largely on a five-wicket haul by Ashwin. They then chased down a meagre target of 192 runs to clinch the series.

With handy runs to go with his exploits with the ball--18 wickets and counting--Kuldeep is now a top contender for the 'Player of the Series' award.

England, meanwhile, are currently reeling at 148/8, still needing another 111 runs to make India bat again.

After winning the toss and opting to bat first, the visitors were bundled out for 218 in their first innings, with Zak Crawley (79 in 108 balls, with 11 fours and a six) top-scored for England, Jonny Bairstow (29), and Joe Root (26) the only notable contributors with the willow.

Kuldeep Yadav (5/72) and Ravichandran Ashwin (4/51) topped the bowling charts for India.

In their first innings, India again out-batted England by a country mile, with the opening pair of skipper Rohit Sharma (103 in 162 balls, with 13 fours and three sixes) and Yashashwi Jaiswal (57 in 58 balls, with five fours and three sixes), contributing handsomely and putting the English attack to the sword.

Debutant Devdutt Padikkal (65 in 103 balls, with 10 fours and a six) and Sarfaraz Khan (56 in 60 balls, with eight fours and a six) also came up with crucial hands. After a mini-collapse, the ninth-wicket pair of Kuldeep Yadav (30 in 69 balls, with two fours) and Jasprit Bumrah (20 in 64 balls, with two fours) raised a 49-run stand to take India to 477, giving them a lead of 259 runs over the visitors.

Shoaib Bashir (5/173) was the pick of the bowlers for England while Tom Hartley and the veteran, James Anderson took two wickets apiece. Skipper Ben Stokes also got a wicket off his first ball of the series.

Anderson, meanwhile, claimed a world record on Saturday, becoming the first among pacers to reach the landmark of 700 Test wickets.