Kuldeep Yadav rattled the Sri lanka middle-order with his three wickets at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.
Drafted into the side in place of Yuzvendra Chahal who couldn’t recover on time ahead of the second ODI, Kuldeep made the most of the opportunity by picking three wickets. The Chinaman finished with match figures of 10-0-51-3 and was instrumental in orchestrating a middle-order collapse.
The left-arm wrist-spinner was crucial for India to get the much-needed breakthroughs in the middle overs. Captain Rohit Sharma introduced him in the 17th over, when Sri Lanka was looking solid with a score of 102 for 1. Kuldeep got rid of the good-looking Kusal Mendis with the wrong’un which slid in straight to the pads for a leg before wicket.
The 28-year-old then dismissed the in-form Sri Lankan captain, Dasun Shanaka, for two runs. Shanaka attempted to sweep the full-length delivery, but he ended up exposing the leg-stump.
Kuldeep did not stop there as he sent Charith Asalanka back to the pavilion in his fifth over when the batter tried to chip the ball straight back to offer a simple caught and bowl opportunity.
Kuldeep, alongside left-arm spinner Axar Patel, kept the bowling tight in the middle-overs to deny Sri Lanka any hope of a recovery.
Kuldeep was India’s forced substitution after first-choice spinner Chahal injured himself during the first ODI in Guwahati. His impactful performance will be difficult to overlook, forcing the selectors to bring him back into the thick of things in a home ODI World Cup year. Kuldeep also completed 200 international wickets during the match in his 107th international appearance.
Chahal hasn’t been able to pick wickets in the middle overs and former India cricketers like Gautam Gambhir and Sanjay Manjrekar have advocated the inclusion of Kuldeep as the Chinaman gives a wicket-taking option. During the second ODI, Kuldeep with a three-wicket haul proved why he should be in the Playing XI rather than warming the bench.
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