Twenty-six years after Shane Warne’s immortal ‘ball of the century’ to Mike Gatting at Old Trafford, Kuldeep Yadav delivered his own version at the very same venue on Sunday.
It had all the characteristics of that Warne delivery which set the stage for the Australian’s illustrious career – flight, drift, dip and sharp turn. Of course, Kuldeep, who is a left-arm wrist-spinner, deceived his victim more with the drift than the turn, while Warne got his man through unbelievable turn.
The Times in London said in its headline after the India-Pakistan match: “Kuldeep Yadav picks perfect moment to deliver own ‘ball of te century’”.KuldeepThe drift got BabarThe victim in Kuldeep’s case was Pakistan’s premier batsman, Babar Azam, who was as clueless in his response to the ball as Gatting all those years ago. The ball curved away from the Pakistani right-hander initially because of the drift and just as it seemed that he had the line covered, the ball spun back viciously to dislodge Babar’s off-stump.Kuldeep Yadav’s sensational delivery to Babar Azam was adjudged to be yesterday’s @Nissan Play of the
According to CricViz, Kuldeep’s delivery turned 5.8 degrees, beating Babar all ends up in the process. While Babar certainly wasn’t expecting so much turn on a relatively placid Old Trafford surface, what really undid him was what had preceded the turn. As all spin bowling aficionados will tell you, it is the drift that accounts for most batsmen at the highest level. And Kuldeep certainly scored on that front, finding 2.96 degrees of drift to deceive the Pakistan No. 3.
Warne had got Gatting with a vicious turn of 14 degrees.
With that and Fakhar Zaman’s dismissal just eight balls later, Kuldeep (9-1-32-2) virtually sealed the contest for India. Even more impressively, the 24-year-old’s performance came at a time when his confidence had visibly taken a hit. For Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, he had taken just four wickets in nine matches at an economy rate of 8.7. It led to him even being dropped from the team for the last five games, which wasn’t the best way to head into his maiden World Cup campaign.
However, as Pakistan agonizingly found out, his poor form in the IPL was a momentary blip. The drift, dip and turn that have seen him – alongside fellow leggie Yuzvendra Chahal – upstage R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja as India’s premier limited-overs spinners are certainly intact.Warne, of course, was the master craftsman, unfurling deliveries of this nature time and again. While Kuldeep is still learning the tricks of the trade, the Old Trafford delivery shows that the chinaman bowler is heading in the right direction.