Kuldeep Yadav celebrates one of his many wickets on Day One at Dharamsala © AFP
Kuldeep Yadav celebrates one of his many wickets on Day One at Dharamsala © AFP

Not long ago, on a picturesque evening at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai with the sun setting down in the Arabian Sea in the background, a certain individual took his fielding position near the ropes close to the Gate No. 8. The game — even if it was a warm-up match — was special. It was MS Dhoni’s final match as India captain. A string of new players played in the two tour games against England, and knowing the typical Indian fan, there was no surprise when a handful of fans who could be heard clearly, started shouting ‘Oye, Rishabh!’, not knowing it was Kuldeep Yadav. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Australia, 4th Test at Dharamsala

Kuldeep did not budge; why should he? They called him by the name of a cricketer who is a batsman; Kuldeep is a Chinaman bowler. Meanwhile, India were put on the backfoot right away with Alex Hales and Jason Roy making a rollicking start. India needed wickets to make a comeback, and the Chinaman bowler was summoned. A ‘Chinaman’ bowler. We can place a bet: how many of the Indian fans understand the cricketing term ‘Chinaman’ anyway? Full Cricket Updates, India vs Australia 2017, 4th Test at Dharamsala, Day 1

Sheepishly, I conveyed those around me to stop calling him Rishabh. They did not listen. They went on and on. Kuldeep, meanwhile, got summoned for bowling. They still did not learn it was Kuldeep, not until he returned to the same fielding spot after removing Hales and Roy in successive overs.

Finally, they learnt the right name.

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‘Left-arm chinaman’ was a term which was heard over television commentary at least twice on the first day of the decisive Test at Dharamsala.

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We have been through Pune, Bengaluru and Ranchi. We have been through sessions, and even days, where teams played attrition cricket. We have experienced batting collapses, several gritty innings, and even moments of complete disintegration. This Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2016-17 has been about a lot more.

If it was India’s turn to disintegrate at Pune, Australia soon had theirs in Bengaluru. But for the first time in the series, batsmen truly made merry in a commanding manner which one can witness only on the batting paradises that we come across in the Indian subcontinent. Steven Smith and David Warner looked like running away with the contest when they added 131 runs in the first session of the Dharamsala Test, hinting that India could be left to do a lot.

However, India’s 288th Test player, the one who has lingered on for long, barged the doors for his team’s entry into the contest.
This era, by what it looks like, is going to be all about Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Jayant Yadav has gone through the season as the third spinner. If one of them is not around, there is Amit Mishra.

Kuldeep was a forced reinforcement after Amit Mishra was ruled out of the season due to an injury.

Where does Kuldeep exist? Surely, in the IPL lanes? But no, he has played a mere 3 matches for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) as of yet. However, in a few days’ time when Kuldeep will join the KKR camp in Kolkata, he will be looked upon as the perfect successor to Brad Hogg.

By the way, Kuldeep removed David Warner with a flipper. The art was taught to him by Shane Warne. A delivery, taught by an Australian, to dismiss an Australian.

“So learning from Warne and then getting out his countryman is a nice feeling,” the 22-year-old finds the whole thing pretty amusing.

Kuldeep took up cricket to get fit. Kuldeep got angry when his coach asked him to bowl spin.

But Kuldeep learnt the art of left-arm wrist-spin, something that a few of us (seemingly) call ‘chinaman bowling’. Bowlers with such an art to not surface often.

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Peter Handscomb is a batsman with watertight technique. India learnt that in Ranchi when they could not get past his defence for two sessions straight on a Day Five wicket. Kuldeep, found it rather easier. He set him up with a few fuller deliveries, eventually beating him with one that drifted and pitched away. The shattered wickets of Handscomb was some sight.

Glenn Maxwell plays the rapid game. He likes going for his shots. He went against Kuldeep on Saturday, hoicking the bowler towards midwicket. Kuldeep beat Maxwell with a slower, wrong ‘un.

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India have 300 to score without losing many wickets to fixate them firmly in the Dharamsala Test. They do not have Virat Kohli. But they will look for an encore of Ranchi. Expect Kuldeep to chip in with the bat as well. For that matter, he averages close to 29 with one century and five fifties in 22 First-Class matches.

Did you know Kuldeep can bat as well?