A total of only 220 out of almost 1.25 billion Indians have had the exclusive privilege of bowling at least one ball in International Test Cricket; and staggeringly enough, only one of them has been a chinaman – and he has bowled his first ball for India in Test Cricket today! Yes, it took India, a country of almost 125 crores, almost 85 years of Test Cricket to finally produce a left-arm chinaman. Kuldeep Yadav became the first ever chinaman bowler for India in Tests. What’s more, he celebrated that with an immaculately crafted superb performance!
So what exactly is a chinaman bowler; what exactly is his stock delivery. Well, a chinaman is a left-arm wrist spinner whose stock delivery is the one that comes into the right-hander. Around 30 chinaman bowlers have so far bowled in Test Cricket and Yadav just joined the coveted list.
Kuldeep couldn’t have asked for a better debut. After losing an early wicket, Australians scampered to 131/1 at the end of the first session, thanks to sizzling stroke play by Smith and Warner. Just when it looked like the Australians would run away with a humongous first innings score, Yadav bowled a brilliant flipper and induced an outside edge off Warner who was caught in slips. After Umesh got Marsh, Handscomb, the man who wielded a phenomenal fight in the third Test and successfully saved it, walked in. Yadav, who is one of those rare spinners who invite the batsmen to drive consistently, kept bowling at the driving length, with a lot of variations. Handscomb, the hero of the Ranchi Test, missed one that turned back in sharply and was bowled. Maxwell, who had set the record straight after a recall in the Ranchi Test with a scintillating hundred, never looked comfortable against the chinaman and was castled by a beautiful googly. Maxwell had absolutely no idea and lamely tried to read Yadav off the pitch. He was clean bowled, a delightful sight to watch for the bowler and viewers alike. He helped India make inroads of paramount importance from one side, even as Smith reached yet another scintillating hundred. Had Smith found a partner in either one of Warner, Handscomb or Maxwell, Indians would have have to play catching up very early in the Test. Later, Yadav got Pat Cummins playing an uppish drive to end with impressive figures of 4/68 off 23 Overs and played an important role in confining Australia to 300 in a pitch that is, by a distance, the most evenly paced of the series so far. To think of it, the selectors gambled on Kuldeep Yadav as a replacement for Virat Kohli. With Kuldeep’s wiles doing the trick, the gamble might just have paid off!