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(From left) Umesh Yadav, and Kuldeep Yadav © IANS

It has been a strange couple of months for the Yadavs of India.

Political ambitions estranged a father-son duo and caused the electoral downfall of both.

The indestructibility that his name suggests was never in evidence as son Akhilesh was swept away by the Modi wave.

And while the lack of tenderness in his nature has often caused his enemies to wonder why his parents named him Mulayam, even the inherent toughness of Akhilesh’s father was not enough to persuade the electorate that he was the man the state needed at its helm.

One grabbing the cycle of the other, while symbolic, did little to help change the fortunes of this Yadav duo in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

A third Yadav was however having somewhat better luck in the greener pastures of Pune, Bangalore and Ranchi.

Umesh Yadav, the much-maligned fast bowler, is in the form of his life.

Umesh, named after Lord Shiva, the God whose name is synonymous with destruction, has been scything through the Australian batting line up on pitches that have had nothing in them for fast bowlers.

Having been an irregular in the line-up, he has taken on board the criticism levelled at him; following some mentoring by former India bowler and current Jharkhand coach, Subroto Banerjee, Umesh has become a thorn in the flesh for the Australian batsmen this series, with his accuracy, movement and speed.

Speaking to ESPNCricinfo during the Ranchi Test, Umesh said, “Usually I used to be in and out of the team and so I didn’t understand what to do but as I started playing more matches, I was just focusing on my bowling — what I should do and what I shouldn’t.”

With 14 wickets so far in the series at an average of about 23, on largely unresponsive pitches, bowling consistently between 140 and 150 km per hour, this Yadav is conquering new frontiers every time he maps out his long run up.

The Yadav clan had its second member in 2017 debuting for India against England. Jayant Yadav brought forth the literal meaning of his name, leaving India victorious when he scored a magnificent century and took some valuable wickets. Although he played the first Test of the current series, his form seems to have taken a little bit of a dip this month.

And then there is the youngest Yadav.

22-year-old Kuldeep Yadav, is the rarest breed of spinners — a Chinaman bowler.

There have not been too many wrist spinners in world cricket who have specialized in the left-arm version of leg-break and googly bowling.

The first was — presumably — Ellis Achong of West Indies, an orthodox left-arm bowler and first Test cricketer of Chinese origin, whose surprise wrist-spinning delivery against England in the 1933 at Old Trafford, brought this disbelieving comment from dismissed batsman Walter Robbins to the umpire, “Fancy being done by a bloody Chinaman!”.

However, subsequent researches have proved that the use of the word ‘Chinaman’ to describe left-arm wrist-spin predates that delivery from Achong.

Then there was Garry Sobers and Johnny Wardle, both of whom used the Chinaman to good effect but were not purely Chinaman bowlers. Wardle actually tried his art mostly in Australia, where the pitches are not conducive to finger-spin.

Paul Adams was indeed a pure Chinaman bowler, but his biggest weapon was his unorthodox action, which soon got sorted out by batsmen.

Chuck Fleetwood-Smith was another prodigious turner of the ball and ambidextrous to boot. His dismissal of Wally Hammond in the 4th Test of the 1936-37 Ashes series is considered to be the ball that turned that series from a 0-2 trail to a 3-2 victory. That ball, considered at par with Shane Warne’s dismissal of Mike Gatting decades later, was described by Don Bradman thus:  “If ever the result of a Test match can be said to have been decided by a single ball, this was the occasion.”

Perhaps the greatest of all was Lindsay Kline, a man remembered mostly for being not out in two of the iconic Tests of all time — at Brisbane and Adelaide 1960-61. Curiously, Kline played only 12 Tests, but his 34 wickets came at an astonishing 22.82 — and with an economy rate of less than 2.

And of course there was Brad Hogg, the most successful Chinaman bowler of all time in limited-overs cricket, whose presence in Kolkata Knight Riders IPL franchise undoubtedly influenced and helped the emergence of Kuldeep Yadav.

Kuldeep first came into the public eye in 2014, playing for India U-19 and taking a hat-trick in a World Cup match. Since then, he has seen success in the T20 format, performing well in IPL with best figures of 5 for 17.

His performances in First Class cricket have however thus far not impressed the selectors enough to propel him into the international arena. After all, a bowling average of 33 from 27 matches is hardly eye catching.

But something changed in the past few months. Indian coach Anil Kumble and captain Virat Kohli, who, like his predecessor MS Dhoni, is a believer in blooding young talent, decided to induct Kuldeep into the Test team against Bangladesh and then against Australia.

In a curious and perhaps inspired decision, the duo, along with stand-in captain, Ajinkya Rahane, then decided to give this young Yadav his Test cap at Dharamsala yesterday, on a flat, fast pitch, replacing the injured Virat Kohli.

And what a debut it was.

There is no doubt that those Australian batsmen who do not play in the IPL had seen tapes of Kuldeep bowling his Chinaman and googly. But seeing him on tape and facing him in person turned out to be two vastly different propositions.

Grabbing his opportunity with both hands, Kuldeep put in a performance that exhibited maturity well beyond what his age and experience would suggest.

As the day started, Kuldeep must have gone through much the same emotions as Commissaire Claude Lebel in The Day of the Jackal.

Using imagery as only he could, Frederick Forsyth aptly described: “His mouth was dry and the tongue stuck to the roof of it as though it were welded there. Nor was it just the heat that caused this feeling. For the first time in many, many years he was really frightened. Something, he was sure, was going to happen during that afternoon, and he still could find no clue as to how or when.”

But that something would turn out to be an astonishing display of spin bowling.

On a pitch where even the most accurate spinner in the world today, Ravindra Jadeja, not to mention the tired and out-of-sorts Ravichandran Ashwin struggled, Kuldeep bowled a sublime length throughout Day One of the Test.

The end of day pitch map showed that almost 100 per cent of his deliveries during the day were on good length. He tossed the ball up and dipped it into the batsman with a deceptive loop through his 23 overs. To add to the misery of the hapless Aussies, no one could read his clever variations.

Peter Handscomb, one of the better players of spin bowling in the side, left the ground, shaking his head at being bowled through the gate by a ball which he completely failed to read.

David Warner knew little about the delivery he spooned up to slip.

Glen Maxwell hit Kuldeep’s stock Chinaman delivery to the boundary, and then saw his off-stump knocked back by a googly he again read as a Chinaman. Pat Cummins hit one straight back, unable to read the direction of spin.

Kuldeep’s figures in his first Test innings read an impressive 4 for 68 off 23 overs.

Indian fans are hoping that Kuldeep will live up to the literal meaning of his name, which is, “Light of the Family”, and his presence will make the Indian cricket firmament shine even brighter in the years to come.

The Ides of March may have passed fairly peacefully this year, but the latter part of the month brought the complete dominance of the Yadavs over the Australians, with the Umesh-Kuldeep duo picking up 6 of the 10 wickets to fall on the eventful day,

Being a bit of a cricket fan himself, Mr Forsyth, I am sure, will not mind if we label the twenty-fifth day of March as The Day of the Yadav.