Kul-deep impact in Lucknow

Coming back from a groin injury, spinner takes three as Delhi beat Super Giants by 6 wickets
Kuldeep Yadav celebrates a wicket.
Kuldeep Yadav celebrates a wicket.(Photo | AP)

WHEN Kuldeep Yadav said, “getting better and ready to go,” during the pre-match chat with one of the broadcasters on Friday, even he would not have expected it to go like this against Lucknow Super Giants.

The left-arm wrist spinner has not enjoyed an easy start to the current campaign. He was at the height of his powers during the Test series against England, bowling as well as he has ever done in his career. He was able to adapt his action, load up and run-up on the go all while taking wickets right from a wrist spinner’s dream.

Coming into the IPL, all he had to do was build on momentum, pile on wickets and walk into the T20 World Cup as India’s first-choice spinner. In Delhi’s first match of the season — against Punjab Kings — he started off well. Two wickets, 20 runs in four overs. The perfect spell from a spinner. But since then, the road has not been easy. He suffered a groin injury, and played with it against Rajasthan Royals only to aggravate it. His spell of 1/41 in four overs didn’t help the team either. Kuldeep went on to miss the next three games, two of which DC lost. Although their batting was in desperate need of luck and runs, Delhi missed Kuldeep. Without him, their attack did not look the same.

Cut to Friday. When Kuldeep marked his run up against Lucknow, the scoreboard read 64/2 after seven overs. KL Rahul, very unlike him, had a rapid start and was in the middle with Marcus Stoinis. The duo were set to build on the momentum and put up a big total. In came Kuldeep, starting with a full and wide delivery which Stoinis hit for a single. For Rahul, he kept it on the stumps and the LSG captain worked it on the leg side. Now back at Stoinis, Kuldeep flighted it up a little on off-stump line, the ball dipped in front of Stoinis who miscued it to Ishant Sharma at point. His first of the day and fourth of the season.

But the battle was not over. The incoming batter was Nicholas Pooran, who can take on any kind of bowling attack. In terms of match-ups, he’s good against all bowling types. And Kuldeep reserved his best for the West Indian. An 85.3KPH googly; it pitched on the fifth stump before turning into hit the off-stump; Pooran had no clue what the ball was going to do. The left-hander was out for a first ball duck.

While Deepak Hooda played the hat-trick ball safely, Kuldeep came back in the next over to get rid of the set Rahul for 39 from 22 balls. This time, Kuldeep bowled wider from around the wicket. It held its line as Rahul tried to cut it only to get a faint edge. The umpire did not give it out, but Rishabh Pant, who completed the low catch, sent it upstairs and got the desired result. Returning from an injury, all it took was nine balls to change the game in favour of Delhi. Three proven match winners back in the dressing room. Talk about making an impact. He would go on to finish the spell with 3/20 in four overs — not a single boundary scored off Kuldeep. By the time he was done, LSG were 121/7 in 16 overs. Ayush Badoni’s unbeaten 55 from 35 balls took LSG to 167/7, but Kuldeep had played his part.

DC batting unit came together to ensure his efforts did not go in vain. Jake Fraser-McGurk scored a half-century on debut (55 from 35 balls), and with Pant (41) for company, put DC in a winning position. Against a team that is known for defending sub-par totals at home, Delhi fired on all cylinders to get back to winning ways.

Brief scores: LSG 167/7 in 20 ovs (Rahul 39, Badoni 55 n.o; Khaleel 2/41, Kuldeep 3/20) lost to DC 170/4 in 18.1 ovs (Fraser-McGurk 55, Pant 41).

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