To help de­code Kuldeep’s mys­tery, Oz rope in Chi­na­man Jiyas

The Free Press Journal - - SPORTS - ANKUR DHAWAN

In their prepa­ra­tion for the five-match ODI series against In­dia, Oz are leav­ing no stone un­turned

Aus­tralia’s trou­bles against spin aren’t a relic of a me­dieval past, given their parched run in the sub-con­ti­nent. They haven’t won a series in In­dia, UAE (Pak­istan’s adopted home), Sri Lanka or Bangladesh since 2011.

How­ever, seem­ingly in­cur­able mal­adies that have been Aus­tralia’s un­do­ing in Test cricket haven’t haunted them as malev­o­lently in the shorter ver­sions of the game. In fact, by con­trast, their One­day in­ter­na­tion­als record in the sub-con­ti­nent is rather im­pres­sive.

But, in their prepa­ra­tion for the five-match ODI series against In­dia, they are leav­ing no stone un­turned, es­pe­cially in their en­deav­our to counter Kuldeep Ya­dav, whose in­flu­ence on the de­cid­ing Dharam­sala Test a few months ago seems to have left an in­deli­ble im­pres­sion.

“He is a good young tal­ent and can be dif­fi­cult to pick at times,” said Steven Smith from the ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing against him in Dharam­sala. “He’s some­one you have to watch re­ally closely.”

Kuldeep, a Chi­na­man, is a rare com­mod­ity in In­ter­na­tional cricket. Oth­ers of his kind, cur­rently ac­tive in the in­ter­na­tional cir­cuit, are South Africa’s Tabraiz Shamsi and Lak­shan San­dakan from Sri Lanka. In­ci­den­tally, San­dakan, too, had bowled Sri Lanka to a vic­tory over Aus­tralia at Pallekele with a seven-wicket match­haul that set the tone for a three-zip rout­ing to fol­low.

With so lit­tle to play with, in terms of sim­u­la­tion, Aus­tralia have roped in KK Jiyas, a Chi­na­man bowler from Ker­ala, to try and de­code the mys­ter­ies of Kuldeep, in the nets. Ac­cord­ing to Smith, spin con­sul­tant S Sri­ram made the ar­range­ment pos­si­ble. Jiyas was part of the Delhi Dare­dev­ils squad, un­der the tute­lage of Sri­ram; their as­sis­tant bowl­ing coach back in 2015.

“He (KK Jiyas) is a guy Sri has or­ga­nized to come down and have a bowl. They have got Kuldeep Ya­dav in their squad and prob­a­bly is likely to play. There is a chance to train against some­one who bowls the same. There aren’t too many around the world, they’re so dif­fer­ent so it’s good to be able to get some­one who bowls a bit of that.”

Prac­tice makes per­fect, as they say. Smith also al­luded to hav­ing played more of Kuldeep dur­ing the In­dian Premier League and watch­ing him closely dur­ing In­dia’s tour of Sri Lanka, re­cently. Both fac­tors, ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralia cap­tain, could be their panacea, and help his team trans­fer the pres­sure on the young spin­ner.

“He has played a bit since then (Dharam­sala Test). A few of the guys played against him in the IPL and saw what he did in Sri Lanka as well. Hope­fully we can put him un­der pres­sure early in his spell and try and take him for as many (runs) as we can.”

While some Aus­tralian bats­men have seen a lit­tle more of Kuldeep than oth­ers, that hasn’t nec­es­sar­ily helped their suc­cess rate against him. Most no­tably, vice-cap­tain David Warner, whom Kuldeep has had on a leash, un­der­scored by three dis­missals in the last five at­tempts, in­clud­ing the first in­nings of the Dharam­sala Test. The rest were ac­counted for in the IPL.

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