Kuldeep (2/48 in 9 overs) and Chahal (2/52 in 10 overs) didn’t exactly run through the Sri Lankan batting line-up, but bowled enough wicket-taking deliveries to choke the run-flow
Kuldeep Yadav was steady and Yuzvendra Chahal decent before Chamika Karunaratane’s late blitz powered Sri Lanka to 262 for nine in the first ODI against India here on Sunday.
Kuldeep (2/48 in 9 overs) and Chahal (2/52 in 10 overs), fondly referred to as ‘Kul-Cha’, didn’t exactly run through the Sri Lankan batting line-up, but bowled enough wicket-taking deliveries to choke the run-flow.
And then Krunal Pandya’s (1/26 in 10 overs) nagging accuracy made run-scoring an arduous task in the middle-overs before Karunaratne (43 no off 35 balls) played a cameo to take the home team past 250 with two huge sixes off Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s (0/63 in 9 overs) bowling.
The Indian pacers also bowled a lot of slower deliveries at the back end as Deepak Chahar (2/37 in 7 overs) got a couple. It was heartening to see Hardik Pandya (1/33 in 5 overs) among the wickets and bowl a few overs across two spells. Hardik though never looked like bowling any effort deliveries and, instead, tried to hit the hard lengths.
The first game of the series, which could well be a make-or-break for Kuldeep, saw him pick two quick wickets in the 17th over to effect a break in momentum and the home team never really picked up the pace after that.
The best part was to witness the three spinners operating with their distinct styles of bowling.
Kuldeep used the flight and drift more, Chahal bowled fuller lengths but not as many vicious leg-breaks, while Krunal’s wicket-to-wicket deliveries and the speed at which he bowled, was commendable.
Between the three, they bowled 98 dot balls which formed as many as 16.2 quiet overs. Add the pacers’ cumulative dot balls, and the plight of the unheralded Sri Lankans was compounded on a slow turner, as more than 25 overs of the stipulated 50 went without scoring.
Most of them got a start but didn’t have the wherewithal to convert the 20’s and 30’s into a big score.
In the case of Kuldeep, the bad habit of bowling flat and quick that had crept in his system in the last two years, wasn’t there to be seen. In fact, he varied his pace well and the one that got left-handed opener Minod Bhanuka (27 off 44 balls) was flighted outside the off-stump, enticing the batsman to go for a drive.
The length was on the fuller side and it turned enough to take the edge, and Prithvi Shaw did the rest at first slip.
He was a trifle lucky before that as Bhanuka Rajapaksa (24 off 22 balls), who was giving the charge, mistimed a pull shot when he sighted a short ball before losing balance. The aerial ball was well judged by skipper Shikhar Dhawan, who ran backwards from his mid-on position to take a tumbling catch.
Chahal removed opener Avishka Fernando (32 off 35 balls), who looked the best Sri Lankan batsman on view with a lovely flicked six off Chahar. The Haryana man bowled a proper leg break and Avishka went for an inside-out shot, which Manish Pandey at extra cover took to end a 49-run stand.
Chahal, once again, broke another 49-run stand when rival sipper Dasun Shanaka (39) was accounted for in the second last delivery of his spell.