Kuldeep has had a horrendous IPL. He has gone wicket-less in as many as 6 of the 9 matches he has played and conceded more than 9 runs per over on 4 occasions.
He has the worst average and strike rate among the 17 spinners who have picked a minimum of 4 wickets in the tournament.
It gets worse.
He has the worst average and strike rate among all the 46 bowlers (pace and spin combined) who have picked a minimum of 4 wickets in the tournament.
Kuldeep picked a total of 17 wickets in 16 innings at an average of 24.58 and strike rate of 18.1 in 2018. He was also more restrictive with an economy of 8.14.
He was the joint highest wicket-taker for KKR last year. He is among the lowest in the pack in this edition.
His bowling average this season is 65.62% worse compared to his average last season. He has taken 31.4 more deliveries to make a breakthrough in 2019.
Kuldeep has been among the best spinners in international limited-overs cricket since his debut. He is the leading wicket-taker in the world in ODI cricket with 87 wickets in 42 innings at 21.74 apiece at a brilliant rate of 26.4 and excellent economy of 4.93 since June 2017. His T20I numbers (since July 2017) are even more impressive with 35 wickets in 18 innings at 12.97 apiece at a strike rate of 11.5 and economy of 6.72.
Two qualities in his bowling have stood out. He has been a phenomenal wicket-taker and in spite of being a wrist spinner (wrist spinners tend to go for more runs as they bowl attacking lines) has been very restrictive controlling the flow of runs in the middle overs.
But in this year’s IPL, Kuldeep has failed on both these counts.
Kuldeep has not been able to pick wickets in this IPL. He hasn’t even threatened to. That has been his biggest failure in the tournament. That he hasn’t either been able to control the flow of runs in the middle overs is an added disappointment.
He has gone wicket-less in the 27 overs he has bowled in this phase of play (overs 7-15) and gone at a rate of above 8. He hasn’t been able to control the game in the middle overs – one of his biggest strengths for India.
He has bowled a number of boundary balls and has been unable to build any rhythm and momentum in his bowling. Kuldeep has been hit for a six once every 15.23 deliveries and has gone for 1.44 sixes, on an average, per inning – among the ten worst in the tournament (min. 5 innings and 120 balls bowled).
It hasn’t helped Kuldeep that KKR, overall, have been one of the worst bowling attacks this year. With his fellow team-mates unable to control the flow of runs from the other end, most batsmen haven’t felt the need to take a risk against the chinaman bowler and have played him with a little more caution. His economy of 8.66 is poor compared to his own standards but certainly not the worst in the tournament – further emphasizing the point.
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 and the joint-most expensive spell by a spinner in IPL history.
What is even more concerning for KKR and India was the reaction of Kuldeep after the assault from Moeen Ali (he took him for 3 sixes and 2 fours in an over). The spinner was in tears with his morale down and confidence completely shattered.
He was subsequently dropped from the next match against SRH.
It does not augur well for India that their leading spinner and a proven match-winner in limited-overs cricket is struggling, both with form and confidence.
Kuldeep isn’t exactly going through a ‘purple’ patch but India will hope that a change of jersey to ‘blue’ will change his fortunes come the World Cup next month.
First Published: April 24, 2019, 8:31 AM IST