RAJKOT: Fourteen wickets fell in half a day at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Saturday.
While Kuldeep Yadav became the seventh bowler to pick up a five-wicket haul in all three formats during Windies’ second essay, nine batsmen (four in first and five in second) fell due to attacking shots, despite so much time on offer. Astounding, to say the least.
“It was a personal plan to go for attacking shots. Going forward, we need to do put our trust in defence as well. That’s the key. We didn’t trust our defence as much as we should have,” West Indies’ stand-in captain Kraigg Brathwaite said.
That weird approach even got R Ashwin talking. “I believed that the second innings would see a lot more fighting. This wicket was pretty solid to bat on. I was surprised by the number of high-risk shots played against spin,” he told the match broadcasters.
But, credit for Kuldeep is also due for the way he went about his business. The chinaman has already become of the most lethal exponents of spin-bowling in the shorter formats, but it is red-ball cricket in which he wants to excel. “It is very close to my heart. I want to play it for long. In England, conditions were different. Maybe I could have bowled well there, but it did not happen. After coming here, I played two matches with India A. It has been a good comeback.”
Things did not start well for the wrist-spinner. He went for over 6 runs per over in their first essay. He varied his line and length after the follow-on, and it paid dividends. “The old SG ball gets soft. So it was difficult to grip in the morning. Every time I gave the ball flight, runs were leaking. When I came back for the second innings, I thought of containing runs. I knew that wickets would come. I had to guard against extra flight because these West Indies batsmen have the power game. So I kept that in mind, used my variations and plugged the scoring rate.”
Kuldeep knows that tougher assignments lie in store and he needs to continuously produce the goods, especially with India’s spin riches. But it can get tough for a tweaker to constantly change his approach, with so much limited-over cricket happening.“Coming back to the red ball from the white ball is difficult. For a wrist-spinner, it is challenging because it takes time to get used to it. The white ball is a bit hard and easier to grip. But the red ball gets softer after a few overs. So it takes time to adjust. Also you give less flight in ODIs. While in Tests, you are encouraged to give the ball more air.”
Roach to return
Windies pacer Kemar Roach, who was unavailable for the first Test after he had to fly back home due to the death of his grandmother, will turn out in the second Test. Jason Holder’s recovery from his ankle injury is also being monitored. Shannon Gabriel too has picked up an ankle niggle, due to which he bowled only three overs on the second day.