When the Indian team for the series against West Indies at home was announced, KulCha were reunited. Kuldeep Yadav was named in the one-day squad, while Yuzvendra Chahal found his name in both the T20I and ODI squads. Chahal, who had a poor series in South Africa, grabbed his opportunity with both hands in the opening one-dayer in Ahmedabad, coming up with a man of the match performance, claiming 4 for 49. Yadav did not feature in the first match. Instead, India went with off-spinner Washington Sundar, who also made an excellent comeback to international cricket with figures of 3 for 30.
While Sundar was impressive in the 1st ODI, a lot of fans are desperate to see the once-deadly combination of KulCha in action together again. They briefly played together in the limited-overs series in Sri Lanka last year but otherwise have hardly been seen in action together. It has either been one or the other or neither. The present situation is in stark contrast to the 2017-19 period when KulCha was dominant. During the two-year phase, Kuldeep claimed 99 wickets in 56 ODIs and 37 scalps in 19 T20Is. As for Chahal, between 2017 and 2019, he picked up 79 wickets in 47 one-dayers and 49 scalps in 33 T20Is. Post that, though, both slipped as they were perhaps overexposed. Chahal is slowly finding his groove again. Can Kuldeep do the same?
Why India must give KulCha a decent chance
If we look at India’s spin bowling resources, they are not all that encouraging. In the absence of too many quality slow bowlers, the Men in Blue were forced to bring back veteran Ravichandran Ashwin into India’s white-ball set up after a gap of more than four years. He did a reasonable job in the T20 World Cup 2021 in the few matches that he played and also in the home series against New Zealand. However, he was completely below par in South Africa as the Proteas thumped the Indians 3-0. While there has been no official word about Ashwin’s exclusion from the West Indies series, conflicting reports have emerged. Some claim he has been dropped; others say he is injured.
Apart from Ashwin, India picked mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy for the T20 World Cup 2021. He proved completely unready for the big challenge and went wicketless in the couple of games that he played. He has disappeared as swiftly from the scene as he arrived, which is not a good way to treat a player. He deserved a few more chances to prove his worth. But, as of now, it seems Chakravarthy is far away from the Indian selectors’ radar. Intriguingly, young Rahul Chahar has also found himself out of favor despite not getting enough opportunities to prove himself.
For the series against West Indies, the selectors have chosen young leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, which is a positive move. But he is very much a raw product, and it will be unfair to expect him to work wonders at the international level right away. There are not too many other spin bowlers in the picture. Given the current scenario, it might not be a bad idea to reunite KulCha. They have done the job before. So why not give them a fair trial?
KulCha have unfinished World Cup business
Heading into the 2019 World Cup, KulCha was expected to be the biggest threat for opponents. They had tasted amazing success in England prior to the ICC event, so their confidence would have been on a high. However, the pressure of expectations got to them, and both of them floundered as India made an exit at the semi-final stage. Post the World Cup, the international careers of both Kuldeep and Chahal went on a downward slide, and they lost their places in the team.
With two World Cups coming in the next two years, KulCha will be keen for redemption. Of course, neither of them is an automatic choice anymore. Both will need to prove themselves all over again to claim a slot. But what cannot be denied is that Kuldeep and Chahal deserve a long enough run for the same.