In his first three ODI bowling spells for India, Kuldeep Yadav picked up two three-wicket hauls and one two-wicket haul, conceding runs at a conbined economy rate of 4.20. This was in mid-2017. Three years hence, Kuldeep Yadav's impact seems to be dwindling in the format where his partner Yuzvendra Chahal is excelling.
In his last three ODIs, Kuldeep has gone at economy rates of 6.5, 6.2 and 8.4, picking up just five wickets in total. The left-arm wrist spinner has been targeted by teams in the middle overs with West Indies, Australia and now New Zealand having considerable success in doing so. In four of his last five matches, Kuldeep has gone at an economy rate of over 6 runs per over.
Once a miserly wicket-taking bowler with a hint of mystery, Kuldeep's stocks have taken a major beating since 2019. In 248 overs in ODIs since 2019, Kuldeep has conceded runs at an economy rate of 5.54, while averaging 37.18 and striking at 40.2. In 10 of the 27 innings, he has gone at six runs per over or more.
India have of late preferred Yuzvendra Chahal over him in the ODI setup with Ravindra Jadeja complementing the leg-spinner and rightly so. Kuldeep's numbers before 2019 reveal why he has gone downhill as much as he has.
In 33 matches prior to 2019, Kuldeep had taken 67 wickets at an average of 20.07, an economy of 4.73 and a strike rate of 25.4. He was tonked for over six runs per over in just six out of 33 innings and bowled at economy rates of four runs per over or lower on 10 separate occasions in those 33 innings.
One factor that has contributed to Kuldeep's downfall is that batsmen have read him better from the hand. Given that he tends to land fuller and wider, hitting him is a fairly option, especially when there's no pressure applied by bowlers at the other end.
India at one point were adamant on playing both Chahal and Kuldeep in the same XI. This did the left-arm wrist spinner a world of good as he averaged just 22.73 when playing alongside Chahal while going at an economy rate of less than 5.
When playing alongside Jadeja, Kuldeep hasn't had much success. The wrist spinner has gone at an economy rate of 5.35 in these matches while averaging 32.3 with the ball. Interestingly, Jadeja's numbers are also terrible when playing with Kuldeep - an average of 42.07.
Chahal, on the other hand, does well when bowling with Jadeja - an average of 23.86 and an economy of 4.83 in 8 matches.
The fact is that Kuldeep does well with Chahal but this isn't true for the leggie whose average is close to 30 when playing alongside Kuldeep. It's also worth mentioning that the Kulcha spin twins, as they are known, played most of these matches at a time teams were still coming to grips with Kuldeep the bowler. Of late, they have deciphered him and managed to stay on top of the left-arm wrist spinner. If recent records are anything to go by, India will want to give Kuldeep a break to allow him to groom his game.
Feature image courtesy: AFP/ Dibyanshu Sarkar