Teams that unveil surprise weapons out of the blue end up frustrating the opposition. India had to deal with this feeling when Steve O’ Keefe razed the India batting order in the first Test at Pune. He emerged as the unforeseen threat to the hosts’ dominance, bringing them down 0-1. But, on Saturday it was India’s turn to unveil a surprise performer in the form of Kuldeep Yadav and deliver a shocker to the visitors.
After winning the toss, Australia began on a remarkable note in the first session despite losing opener Matt Renshaw in the 2nd over. The greenish wicket was to their liking and skipper Steve Smith and David Warner got going with complete control to push India to the corner in the opening session.
Post lunch, Ajinkya Rahane, the stand-in skipper, introduced the ‘surprise’ factor – Kuldeep Yadav and soon, Australia began to count the wickets that fell, sinking in a state of misery after being in an authoritarian state initially.
Kuldeep Yadav’s spell of 4 from 68 in 23 overs might not be the sort of rude awakening that Steve O’Keefe delivered to India, but it certainly left a huge dent in the momentum which the Australian gained at the start of the day. All courtesy to the 22-year-old, who made his debut highly memorable in all sense.
“I am very happy and it is a dream come true for me. Playing Test match cricket and performing like this, can’t ask for more. I was nervous in the first few overs, but later it felt normal. Still feels like I am playing Ranji Trophy. The last few months I have been working on my fitness and it has helped with my bowling. In the last month, I have been with Anil (Kumble) and Virat, they always motivate me in the nets.”
Australia was seated comfortably at 131/1 at lunch with Steve Smith and David Warner in the middle. But, India clawed back into the match within few overs into the post lunch session and eventually was able to bundle out the batting side for 300 at the stroke of the day. The score would have been much lesser had the tail-enders not hung around with other half-centurion Matthew Wade.
Starting with David Warner, who became Kuldeep’s maiden Test wicket, the spinner went on to bag Peter Handscomb and Glenn Maxwell scalps in spectacular style before the tea session. He, later broke the thriving stand between Mathew Wade and Pat Cummins with the wicket of the latter to complete his four-wicket haul.
“The wicket was very good to bat on and it was skidding on. I just bowled wicket-to-wicket and used my variations. I was working on my variations since I started to play cricket; the wrong ‘uns, flippers and chinaman. Handscomb’s wicket (prized wicket). I set a plan for him. I showed him like I was bowling the wrong ‘un, but bowled the chinaman. I knew he (Maxwell) was going to go for it and I stuck to my line and wanted to make him uncomfortable.”