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Bangladesh v India 2022/23

‘Unbelievable’ – Kuldeep Yadav benched days after Player of the Match performance

Kuldeep Yadav dropped
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

India made one change to their XI for the second Test against Bangladesh, bringing in Jaydev Unadkat in place of Kuldeep Yadav, the Player of the Match in the first Test. The decision to drop Kuldeep led to criticism from some quarters.

Left-arm seamer Unadkat, recalled into the Test side after 12 years, joined Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav as the third seamer in the XI, with R Ashwin and Axar Patel being the two spinners. Unadkat’s inclusion was met with plenty of praise for his persistence – he missed 118 Test matches between appearances – making his way back after stellar Ranji Trophy performances. The 2019/20 season, in particular, was record-breaking: he took 67 wickets, the most by a seamer in a single season. However, not everyone was impressed by the call to drop Kuldeep.

The look of the wicket could have governed the call, as the Mirpur pitch had a visible tinge of grass. At the toss, India captain KL Rahul said: “It’s a confusing wicket. There is a lot of grass. I’m not too disappointed because I have no idea what to expect from this pitch,” adding that he had taken advice from ‘experts’ – the coaching staff and seniors – to get an idea of the surface.


Kuldeep has had a topsy-turvy ride in Test cricket so far. With India usually preferring the combination of Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja at home (and one of them outside Asia), Kuldeep has often been the third spinner, spending considerable time outside the XI. Since his debut in March 2017, he has played eight Test matches. His match figures of 8-113 at the Chattogram Test, his first since February 2021, was his best match haul till date.

In the first session, the surface looked to be gripping up a bit. India introduced Ashwin by the 12th over. Not long after, Unadkat, who had debuted as a 19-year-old against South Africa in 2010, claimed Zakir Hasan as his first Test wicket.

On air, Sunil Gavaskar slammed the decision to drop Kuldeep as “unbelievable … That’s the only word I can use and it’s a gentle word. I would like to use quite stronger words, but it’s unbelievable that you left out a man of the match, who got eight out of the 20 wickets.” Gavaskar’s voices were echoed by many on social media.

Not everyone criticised the call. Some felt that the tactical move made sense considering the surface. Commentating during the first session, Sanjay Manjrekar said that the call was “purely based on conditions … India came here, saw the surface. We all saw the surface. It is not a three spinners pitch. And India has so much quality in the seamers, that they went for it.”


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