Not so long ago, India relied on the successful bowling pair of YS Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav in limited-overs cricket. The two have had replaced R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja after the experienced duo faltered in the 2017 Champions Trophy final against Pakistan. For the record, India lost the final despite winning all games in the competition.
Kulcha has had replaced Ashwin-Jadeja pair for good, but now the pair has been broken and India are back to square one finding a good spin combo. They have not been playing Kulcha together with a few spinners in all-rounder Jadeja and India’s new fixation Washington Sundar replacing either of them.
So, what are the reasons for India to break the successful pair of Kulcha?
The re-emergence of Sir Ravindra Jadeja in limited-overs cricket
Jadeja was relegated to Test cricket after the 2017 Champions Trophy final loss. Jadeja continued to impress with bat and ball in Test cricket. He was difficult to stop. And soon he made a comeback to limited-overs cricket. And India had to sacrifice one of the wrist spinners to accommodate Jadeja. And hence, Chahal and Kuldeep were rotated to make space for all-rounder Jadeja. And Jadeja justified his place in the XI with useful cameos with both bat and ball. Jadeja’s best moment has been his all-round performance in 2019 World Cup semis against New Zealand, which India lost by a close margin.
Wrist-spin options lack variety?
Thanks to Kulcha, India managed to bag an ODI series win in South Africa for the first time. The two hunted in a pair and brought the downfall of opposition. But down the line, India felt two wrist-spinners have had become a routine and were getting sorted out by the opposition.
Hence, India brought in other spinners, especially spin-all-rounders in Krunal Pandya, for a better balance in XI in T20Is. And the combo of Kulcha got separated.
In the meantime, off-spinner Washington Sundar too has made his way into the Indian team. And despite Sundar’s below-par show, India have persisted with him for the sake of variety in the line-up and his capacity to hit the balls out of the park.
India get a long tail with Kulcha
India have realised they need depth in their batting line-up and with Kulcha in the line-up, they’ll have a long tail that can be exposed in crucial matches. Hence, the inroads of batting-spin all-rounders in Sundar and Krunal. Although both have not performed above expectations, India’s penchant to have spin all-rounders made Chahal, Kuldeep ply their trade for India in rotation. The two have rarely bowled in tandem, while Sundar, Krunal, and now Jadeja have had been persisted with.
Kuldeep Yadav’s diminishing returns
Kuldeep has hit a roadblock after his below-par performance in last IPL where he was taken to task by Andre Russell and other batsmen. He has not been the same bowler since. India have not been up to mark since then and that’s visible in the limited appearances he has made for India.
Hence, India have relied more on Chahal than Kuldeep. And India have felt it suicidal to persist with Kulcha. Although Chahal has performed well in his limited appearances, India’s penchant to go with spin-all-rounders has seen both Kuldeep, Chahal relegated to the background. And their pair has been broken up for good.
World T20 in Australia
India are planning for World T20 in Australia. Australia pitches do not provide great help to spinners, and hence, going with two front-line spinners may be considered a luxury. Hence, India are looking at all spin options before finalising their main spinners.
Besides, India are looking at batting spin-all-rounders who can do the dual job of scoring runs and containing the opposition. Hence, more than Kulcha, they are looking to zero in Sundar, Jadeja and Krunal for their spinner slots.
Hence, either of Chahal or Kuldeep can make it to Australia in World T20 next year as a specialist spinner or both can make it but it’s doubtful the 2 will be bowled in tandem.
Currently, India are rotating them to finalise their spin options to zero in on the spinners or better, spin-all-rounders, who can do the job for them in Australia next year.