Kuldeep Yadav Merlyn bowling machine Chinaman googly England India 2nd T20I 2018
To figure out Kuldeep Yadav (left), England may have to resort to Merlyn (right) Getty Images

England were unable to pick Kuldeep Yadav in the first T20 International of the 3-match series against India, at Old Trafford. Kuldeep, who mixed his googlies with Chinamen and bowled with impeccable control, picked up 5 for 24. This included a 4-ball spell in which he dismissed Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, and Joe Root, the last two toppling over to be stumped for golden ducks. Alex Hales, too, had no clue before he perished to a desperate slog.

The English batsmen seemed all at sea against Kuldeep’s variations. Now they will resort to Merlyn, their state-of-the-art bowling machine, to replicate (and fathom) Kuldeep’s mysteries. Jos Buttler, the only batsman who seemed to be in some sort of comfort at Old Trafford, explained, as quoted by cricket.com.au: “One thing we can do is with Merlyn, to replicate the angle. It s a very good machine to get used to that. But it was the first time some guys have faced Kuldeep and it may take one or two games, plus video.

“It’s about understanding that you shouldn’t get too flustered. With spin it can all happen quickly, suddenly you have faced a few balls and aren’t off the mark, so it’s not allowing that to affect you. You have to get used to the action and once you have faced them a bit more it gets easier. You have a bit more trust and might pick up a few cues.”

Merlyn, apparently capable of bowling “any ball known to man”, was introduced to the England side ahead of the 2005 Ashes to decipher the perennial threat of Shane Warne.

When Australia toured India for the ODIs in 2017-18, they had recruited Delhi Daredevils Chinaman bowler Karapak Kuzhiyil Jiyas to prepare against Kuldeep. It did not work: Kuldeep took 7 wickets in 4 matches including a hat-trick at Kolkata.