DHARAMSALA, India (Reuters) - Steve Smith and his men have compatriot Shane Warne to blame for the trouble they endured against India’s tricky left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav on the opening day of the fourth and final test on Saturday.
A left-field selection for the most important match of the series currently level at 1-1, Kuldeep made a memorable test debut claiming 4-68 as Australia could not capitalise on a strong start and were all out for 300 in their first innings.
Smith and David Warner were past their individual fifties and the century-plus partnership was looking ominous for India when Kuldeep employed the trick he had learnt from Warne to lead India’s second session fightback.
The 22-year-old sent down a delivery which pitched around the off-stump, kicked off and kissed the shoulder of Warner’s bat before reaching Ajinkya Rahane in the slip.
“My first wicket was not a Chinaman delivery but a flipper which I learnt from him (Warne),” a beaming Kuldeep told reporters at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium.
“It’s obviously good to learn from them and use against them,” quipped the Uttar Pradesh spinner who met Australian spin great Warne in Pune last month.
“Warne is my idol. I still watch his videos. It was a dream to meet him and discuss my bowling. I followed his advice. We’d meet soon for another session.”
With regular skipper Virat Kohli missing the match with a shoulder injury, the Rahane-led team took a bold decision to go with five bowlers.
Kuldeep was told about his much-awaited test debut early in the morning and the spinner showed no nerves - though looked emotional after getting his first test wicket - in a brilliant display of wrist-spin bowling.
His craft was in full display as he outfoxed Glenn Maxwell with a googly after being hit for a four two balls previously.
“From childhood, I’ve been taught that a true spinner would concede runs but will also take wickets. That remains my theory,” he said.
Talking about his craft, Kuldeep said left-arm wrist spin came naturally to him.
”I was not even aware that this is called Chinaman bowling. I was initially not happy but then focussed on getting better at it.
“Today, I was backing my skills and the variations I have.”
Matthew Wade, who made a fighting half-century for Australia, was impressed with Kuldeep’s bag of tricks.
“He bowled a lot of different deliveries,” the stumper-batsman said.
“He bowled a lot of leg-spinners with scrambled seam, his wrong‘un with the scramble seam as well. It took a few balls to get used to it,” Wade added.
Editing by Pritha Sarkar