IND VS ENG 5th Test: Kuldeep Yadav Wreaks Havoc as India Outplays England

IND VS ENG 5th Test: India’s left-arm spinner, Kuldeep Yadav, proved to be the game-changer once again in Dharamsala against England. 

If England‘s batting strategy this India trip has been, to put runs on the board before they get a ball with their name on it, then they have faced a man whose tactics could not be more precisely designed to frustrate them in Kuldeep Yadav.

IND VS ENG 5th Test: Kuldeep Yadav Wreaks Havoc as India Outplays England

England 218 (Crawley 79, Kuldeep 5-72, Ashwin 4-51) leads India 135 for 1 (Jaiswal 57, Rohit 52*, Gill 26*) by 83 runs.

There aren’t many spin bowlers in history who have produced as many wicket-taking deliveries as Kuldeep has done thus far. He has amassed his 50th Test wicket from just 1871 deliveries, which is faster than any spinner since Jonny Briggs in the 19th century and more than 55 overs quicker than India’s next fastest bowler, Axar Patel, who tormented England on their most recent tour in 2021.

In the series so far, he has taken 17 wickets in exactly 100 overs, although nine of those have came in his last 30 overs. In difficult but manageable batting conditions, England collapsed once more under his watch, just as he had exposed their batting in the pivotal third innings in Ranchi.

In swinging conditions, Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett overcame a challenging opening hour after winning what should have been a critical toss to take England to 64 for 0, their ninth partnership of nine wickets or more this series. But when Ben Stokes became Kuldeep’s fifth and last victim, the score was 175 for 6, and when R Ashwin celebrated his 100th Test match with a four-wicket tail-docking, the final score was 218 all out.

By the end, India’s captain Rohit Sharma, who reached the end of the innings on 52 not out, and the Boy Wonder Yashasvi Jaiswal, who charmed his way to a 56-ball fifty, including three sixes in four balls off Shoaib Bashir to raise his series tally to a hardly credible 26, had thoroughly numbed England’s sense of a wasted opportunity.

IND VS ENG 5th Test: Kuldeep Yadav Wreaks Havoc as India Outplays England

Jaiswal quickly broke Virat Kohli’s previous record for the most runs in a Test series against England (655) during his innings. Approaching his fiftieth birthday, he had already eclipsed Sunil Gavaskar’s historic seventy-seven-four score in the Caribbean during 1970–71—the highest total by an Indian batsman in any series. However, after smacking his last two deliveries for four, he charged past a wide one from Bashir in a spurt of blood to be stumped for 57, with a third century of the series at stake.

The worst part of their performance, though, was their mid-afternoon collapse, which included five wickets for eight runs between overs 44 and 50. Among them were three elite batsmen who had each scored a century of caps, and they did not add a single run in ten balls. Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, and Ben Stokes came and went with the kind of whine that England’s no-consequences policy was meant to eradicate.
At least Bairstow delivered the raw emotional innings in his 100th Test that his pre-match remarks had hinted at. However, as has been the case throughout an incredibly disappointing year, his explosive start was followed by a lackluster finish. He resolved to climb through everything in his arc, and after combining a wild knock of 29 from 18 with two sixes from Kuldeep and a fierce caught-and-bowled opportunity, he stepped into a loose drive with the ball just outside his eyeline, burning a review as Dhruv Jurel snagged the thin edge.
By now, Root had gently edged his way to 26 not out—exactly the kind of inconspicuous advancement that has long been his hallmark. Despite the Ranchi century, his balance hasn’t been great this tour, and in the next over, Ravindra Jadeja stumped him with a traditional two-card trick that involved hitting a bit ripper to beat his outside edge and then a slider to the middle of his knee-roll.
Before HawkEye conveyed the bad news to Root, he also chose, albeit desperately and belatedly, to get a second opinion. If that was another proof of England’s disorganized thinking, Stokes verified it by the end of Kuldeep’s subsequent over. Over the course of the series, England’s skipper has portrayed a reserved image at the bat. His propensity to wait till the crease to assess the situation before taking a risk has unintentionally come to represent the exact kind of fatalistic batting that his team would otherwise claim to shun.

Thus, he urged Kuldeep to take him on in this situation, exactly as he was drawing Jasprit Bumrah miraculous balls at the end of the set. Stokes fluttered over the line in reaction, but was stuck on the crease by an inch-perfect googly that followed a tremendous ripping legbreak past his outside edge.

After he scored his third consecutive single-figure score and a six-ball duck, England was too far gone to be saved.

At least Ben Foakes learned from his careless graft at Ranchi, as he and Shoaib Bashir decided to counterattack for a short while after tea. However, Ashwin destroyed the rest of the innings, then played a cute game of “you first, no you first” as he gave Kuldeep the honor of leading the team off the field. It was obvious that England had blown their best chance of getting out of this difficult tour unscathed.

At the top of the order, Crawley was again England’s finest performer. He reached double figures for the ninth time in nine innings with more poise than the early morning conditions may have suggested, and his amazing reach on the cover drive was the highlight of his innings once more. However, he was unable to build on his strong start once more, falling short this time for a series-high 79, his fourth half-century and the highest of three scores of 70 or higher.

Naturally, Kuldeep was the one to free him, and to be fair, it was a magnificent delivery: a tossed-up legbreak that dipped, ripped, and removed the leg stump as Crawley was drawn into one of his cover drives, only to be cut open in the process. It was sent high above the eyeline.

However, he had previously relied on a good deal of luck up to that point, such as a difficult caught-and-bowled opportunity in Jadeja’s opening over and a leg-strangling incident from Kuldeep shortly after lunch that Sarfaraz Khan was rightfully insistent should have been reviewed at short leg. In addition, he made it through a leg-stump umpire’s decision to declare Muhammad Siraj out on LBW on March 29, which was exactly the kind of dismissal that had been working against him earlier in the series.

India’s quicks were extracting 2.4 degrees of swing at that point, as opposed to less than a degree in the four Test matches prior. Put succinctly, England had survived the storm and ought to have been able to profit from a pitch that India had since shown to be loaded with runs. But Kuldeep’s strategies prevent this kind of bedding-down. You don’t think the situation will ease up going forward.

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