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India vs England: The Dwindling Returns of Kuldeep Yadav in Limited Overs Cricket

Kuldeep Yadav had a sensational beginning to his limited-overs career. He picked 67 wickets in just 31 bowling innings at a stunning average of 20.07 but his fortunes have gone crashing down since a horrendous IPL 2019.

India vs England: The Dwindling Returns of Kuldeep Yadav in Limited Overs Cricket

One of the stories of India’s commendable win against England in the ODI series opener in Pune was the collective fightback of their bowling unit. Prasidh Krishna and Krunal Pandya on debut, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur – everyone played their part. Everyone with the exception of Kuldeep Yadav who not only did not pick a wicket but was also the most expensive bowler of the Indian innings. Kuldeep’s fortunes have seen diminishing returns across formats and his numbers have come crashing down in the last couple of years.

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Kuldeep had a sensational beginning to his limited-overs career. He picked 67 wickets in just 31 bowling innings at a stunning average of 20.07 and strike rate of 25.4 from his ODI debut in June 2017 till the end of 2018. He was very restrictive too with an economy rate of just 4.73 during this time frame. Kuldeep was the leading wicket-taker in the world in this time-frame with an average and strike rate product of amongst the best in the world. His exploits included a hat-trick against Australia at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

His talent and pedigree was being hailed by one and all in the cricketing world and he was touted to be the next great thing in international cricket – the mystery spinner who was bamboozling opposition line-ups all over the world picking heaps of wickets.

Kuldeep tasted similar success in T20I cricket too. He was a wicket-taker who could run through opposition line-ups. He bagged as many as 33 wickets in his first 17 matches at a brilliant strike rate of 11.5 and phenomenal economy rate of 6.74. Kuldeep had a high impact for his franchise Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in this period too. In 2017 he returned with 12 wickets in as many matches while returning as the joint-highest wicket-taker for the franchise with 17 wickets in 2018.

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Kuldeep was at the top of his game. And then suddenly it all fell apart!

Kuldeep had a horrendous 2019 season in the IPL. He picked just 4 wickets in 9 matches at an average of 71.5 and strike rate of 49.5 going at 8.66 runs per over.

He went wicket-less in as many as 6 of the 9 matches he played and conceded more than 9 runs per over on 4 occasions. He bowled a number of boundary balls and could not build any rhythm and momentum in his bowling.

Kuldeep was tonked for 59 in his 4 overs against RCB in Kolkata – the second most expensive figures in an innings (after Tim Southee’s 61) in IPL XII. He was taken apart by Moeen Ali who blasted him for three sixes and a couple of boundaries in an over – Kuldeep broke down – his morale and confidence shattered.

He was never the same bowler for India again too.

Kuldeep has picked just 18 wickets in as many matches for India in ODI cricket post IPL 2019. His bowling average has deteriorated to 53 and strike rate worsened to 56 thereafter. He has since just represented India in three T20Is and gone at a rate of 10.37 runs per over. He even lost the spot of KKR’s leading spinner to the mystery tweaker Varun Chakravarthy in the last edition of the IPL (2020) in the UAE. Kuldeep did not make any impact in the 5 matches he played for KKR picking just one solitary wicket.

His poor returns in limited-overs have also meant that he is out of favour in the Test format too.

From a wicket-taking Chinaman bowler who was also very economical, neither is Kuldeep making any breakthroughs nor is he able to control the flow of runs. There are many theories which potentially explain the downfall of Kuldeep Yadav across formats and teams. Some experts believe that batsmen across teams have started to read the maverick bowler and thus no longer see him as a threat. Another study suggests that a lot of teams decided to play out Kuldeep in the middle overs not giving him any free wickets. This dented his confidence and he started losing his control and rhythm which resulted in delivering a number of boundary deliveries.

Whatever the case might be the fact of the matter is that Kuldeep Yadav needs some magic to revive his dwindling fortunes in all forms of cricket. The wicket-taker, the fighter in him who won many a match for India operating with Yuzvendra Chahal in the middle overs – needs to return. And quickly.

Time is running out for the left-arm wrist spinner.

Team Rankings

1 Australia 3028 116
2 New Zealand 2406 115
3 India 3085 114
4 England 4326 106
5 Sri Lanka 2454 91
FULL Ranking
1 England 5405 123
2 India 6102 117
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 Australia 4344 111
5 South Africa 3345 108
FULL Ranking
1 England 6877 275
2 Australia 6800 272
3 India 10186 268
4 Pakistan 7516 259
5 South Africa 5047 252
FULL Ranking