It’s not the first time Kuldeep Yadav has not made the playing XI after claiming a five-wicket haul. But the left-arm unorthodox spinner’s non-inclusion for the second Test against Bangladesh here, after a player-of-the-match performance in the opening match, is the most surprising one yet.
At the toss, skipper K.L. Rahul called it a “hard decision” on Kuldeep. He termed the wicket a “confusing pitch” and said he didn’t know what to make of it. Left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat was included “to cover all bases,” leaving R. Ashwin and Axar Patel as the two specialist spinners.
But Bangladesh seems to have read the wicket differently, going in with three spinners. “We might not have read the wicket very well (in Mirpur) but we also didn’t read Kuldeep very well (in Chattogram),” said James Siddons, Bangladesh batting coach.
“We are surprised that he didn’t play. I think it has been a pretty flat wicket for the fast bowlers. It is turning and bouncing for the spinners so [it’s] harder against them. Ashwin got some unbelievable bounce and spin.”
“We hope that our decision to play spinners is a good one. Having said that, Umesh [Yadav] got four wickets and [Jaydev] Unadkat got two.”
It’s probable that India might have wanted a third seamer because of the unusual grass cover on the pitch and the foggy winter mornings. It may also be that with the wicket offering more purchase than in Chattogram, finger spinners in Ashwin and Axar would prove adequate. And the two are also better batters. But what message does this send to Kuldeep?
“It’s part of the journey and has happened to me also,” Umesh Yadav said in the post-match briefing. “This is a team management call. It’s good that he came back and did well in the previous match.”
“It’s a 50-50 wicket. The odd ball is kicking from back of length, and if you bowl full it is not swinging or doing anything. Ashwin bowled with the new ball and some of them turned. But not so much with the softer ball. It’s doing things in parts. It’s not fully [in favour] of the pacers or spinners.”