All Star of the Match
Prior to Kolkata Knight Riders' game against Rajasthan Royals, Kuldeep Yadav had nine wickets in 12 games, at an average of 35.11 and an economy rate of 8.94. Kuldeep's sub-par returns were complemented by a discernible lack of confidence. Then, it all changed when Ajinkya Rahane premeditated a reverse sweep, a shot he isn't accustomed to.
Kuldeep bowled Rahane with his second ball of the night. A celebratory leap filled with relief followed. And just like that, everything was back to normal in the left-arm spinner's world. The control returned. And naturally, so did the confidence. In his next over, Kuldeep's discipline forced Jos Buttler, 11 runs short of six consecutive fifties, into another reverse sweep. A thick leading edge was taken at backward point. "I knew Buttler was trying to reverse sweep, so I bowled a quicker one," Kuldeep said in the post-match presentation.
In his third over, Stuart Binny failed to read a googly, over-balanced and was convincingly stumped. In his final over, Kuldeep had Ben Stokes caught off a leading edge. There was craft, control and skill in those dismissals and the deliveries that led to them. Not only did he finish with 4 for 20, he also masterminded a stunning collapse to lead KKR closer to the playoffs.
The wow moment
Kuldeep had just taken two wickets, including that of Buttler with a seam-up variation. He found his length and importantly, his pace on an Eden Gardens surface that wasn't turning appreciably. So, when Binny came in at No. 6, with Royals in trouble, Kuldeep was at his best.
Aware that Binny may not be able to read him from the hand, Kuldeep's first ball was a googly that was wide and full, preventing Binny from reading his variations off the pitch. So awkward was Binny's position after he missed his flick that he nearly fell over: done in all ends up by a sensational display of flight.
Kuldeep's 4 for 20 was his best IPL figures.
There was one wicket and one dot ball in each of Kuldeep's four overs.
What they said
"I was just thinking about taking a wicket, Jos Buttler is a set player, he is playing tremendously but I really wanted to take him out. You have to motivate yourself, you have to think about your strengths, stick to your basics."
Kuldeep Yadav in the post-match presentation.