India 'A' spinner Kuldeep Yadav in full flight against England during the tourists’ warm-up match at the Brabourne Stadium in the city last month. Pic/SURESH KARKERA
Kuldeep Yadav plies a trade which is not very common. There are not many chinaman bowlers in first-class cricket, and it's an even rarer occurrence at international level.
Yadav is immensely talented in his craft. The 23-year-old Kanpur lad has troubled many quality batsmen in the limited opportunities he's got till date. Like on Monday, against the visiting Bangladesh team in a warm-up game in Hyderabad, where he picked up the wickets of Saumya Sarkar and Mominul Haque off successive deliveries.
So, with leg-spinner Amit Mishra out injured, Yadav has deservingly been drafted into the Indian team to face Bangladesh in the one-off Test in Hyderabad. He may or may not be picked in the playing XI, but it's surely the first step towards his burning desire to represent the country at the senior level and become India's first left-arm wrist spinner.
Kuldeep first met with success playing for the Junior India team in the 2014 World Cup in Dubai, after doing well in the two U-19 Test matches earlier. He has been in the spotlight ever since, having been signed by Indian Premier League outfit Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) even before he played first-class cricket. He impressed for KKR in the Champions League T20 in September 2014 and found himself in the India ODI team even before turning out for Uttar Pradesh at the senior level. Having drawn wholesome praise from none other than Sunil Gavaskar in the wake of his Champions League performance, cricket followers in UP were expecting Yadav to make it to the playing XI in the ODI series against the West Indies in 2014. However, he was not given a chance and was back to the domestic grind. Yadav was the most impressive spinner in the day/night Duleep Trophy in Noida at the start of this season in September.
The story of Yadav, the son of a brick kiln owner, is quite interesting. Initially, he wanted to be a left-arm fast bowler, following in the footsteps of his idol, Wasim Akram. But his coach in Kanpur, Kapil Pandey, on seeing his not-so-impressive physique then, advised him to become a spinner. And when the first ball he bowled turned out to be a chinaman, the coach told him to stick to the unusual style.
"As a 13-year-old, when I went to an academy in Kanpur, my coach Kapil sir felt I should bowl spin since I didn't have the physique for a fast bowler. I bowled a chinaman first-up, and though my coach was surprised, he encouraged me to stick to it," Kuldeep had told this correspondent when he first came into limelight.
Having not got enough exposure in the last couple of seasons, one believes young Yadav is ready for the big leap sooner rather than later.
What's a chinaman
A chinaman bowler is a left-arm wrist spinner. While orthodox left-arm spinners predominantly use their fingers, chinaman bowlers use their wrist and their stock ball turns from off to leg for a right-hand batsman. The wrong one of a chinaman goes from leg to off, and if well concealed, can be a big weapon.