Chennai : Australia’s troubles against spin aren’t a relic of a medieval past, given their parched run in the sub-continent. They haven’t won a series in India, UAE (Pakistan’s adopted home), Sri Lanka or Bangladesh since 2011.
However, seemingly incurable maladies that have been Australia’s undoing in Test cricket haven’t haunted them as malevolently in the shorter versions of the game. In fact, by contrast, their One-day internationals record in the sub-continent is rather impressive.
But, in their preparation for the five-match ODI series against India, they are leaving no stone unturned, especially in their endeavour to counter Kuldeep Yadav, whose influence on the deciding Dharamsala Test a few months ago seems to have left an indelible impression.
“He is a good young talent and can be difficult to pick at times,” said Steven Smith from the experience of playing against him in Dharamsala. “He’s someone you have to watch really closely.”
Kuldeep, a Chinaman, is a rare commodity in International cricket. Others of his kind, currently active in the international circuit, are South Africa’s Tabraiz Shamsi and Lakshan Sandakan from Sri Lanka. Incidentally, Sandakan, too, had bowled Sri Lanka to a victory over Australia at Pallekele with a seven-wicket match-haul that set the tone for a three-zip routing to follow.
With so little to play with, in terms of simulation, Australia have roped in KK Jiyas, a Chinaman bowler from Kerala, to try and decode the mysteries of Kuldeep, in the nets. According to Smith, spin consultant S Sriram made the arrangement possible. Jiyas was part of the Delhi Daredevils squad, under the tutelage of Sriram; their assistant bowling coach back in 2015.
“He (KK Jiyas) is a guy Sri has organized to come down and have a bowl. They have got Kuldeep Yadav in their squad and probably is likely to play. There is a chance to train against someone who bowls the same. There aren’t too many around the world, they’re so different so it’s good to be able to get someone who bowls a bit of that.”
Practice makes perfect, as they say. Smith also alluded to having played more of Kuldeep during the Indian Premier League and watching him closely during India’s tour of Sri Lanka, recently. Both factors, according to the Australia captain, could be their panacea, and help his team transfer the pressure on the young spinner.
“He has played a bit since then (Dharamsala Test). A few of the guys played against him in the IPL and saw what he did in Sri Lanka as well. Hopefully we can put him under pressure early in his spell and try and take him for as many (runs) as we can.”
While some Australian batsmen have seen a little more of Kuldeep than others, that hasn’t necessarily helped their success rate against him. Most notably, vice-captain David Warner, whom Kuldeep has had on a leash, underscored by three dismissals in the last five attempts, including the first innings of the Dharamsala Test. The rest were accounted for in the IPL.