On Wednesday, the left-armer moved one step closer to cementing his place in the XI ahead of the World Cup in October, picking up the vital wickets of David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne and Alex Carey in the middle overs to dent the Aussie middle-order and prevent them from running away with a huge score.
On a sluggish Chepauk track that offered him appreciable turn and bounce, Kuldeep chose to bowl quicker than usual. Close-in Indian fielders were heard on the stump mic advising Kuldeep to bowl a tad slower in the air, but he stuck to his guns and reaped rewards for it.
Kuldeep’s prior experience of playing on this pitch helped him zero in on the right pace and length. “I played the India ‘A’ series here, so I knew the wicket was slow. I was getting good drift in the air and bowling a lot of seam-up deliveries,” he said during the innings break.
The southpaw deceived Warner and Labuschagne in the air, inducing false shots to bring about their downfall. But it was Carey’s dismissal that was truly heartening. Tossing one up in the 39th over on a good length on middle and leg, Kuldeep got the ball to turn away and beat Carey all ends up, dislodging the off stump. “I really enjoyed that ball (which got Carey out). I have been working on this delivery – just try to bowl on the middle-and-leg line, and from there, if I can spin the ball, there can be a top edge,” Kuldeep said.
Coach Rahul Dravid is mindful of the match-altering capability of a wrist spinner like Kuldeep, which is why the 28-year-old is currently a regular in the playing XI.
“Obviously having a wrist-spinner, if he is bowling well, is a huge advantage. Taking wickets in the middle overs is important. A wrist spinner gives that chance to be attacking and take wickets in the middle overs, which is why we have given Kuldeep a pretty consistent run,” Dravid had said on Tuesday.
Given Kuldeep’s potency, the former Indian batting bulwark is giving him a long rope ahead of Chahal. “We have Yuzi (Chahal), who is a very fine bowler and unfortunately missing out. At the moment, we believe in giving people a consistent run before we make decisions and Kuldeep is the one that is getting the run over the last few games,” Dravid said.