T20I bowling performance of the year February 25, 2019

The unread and the dead

Kuldeep bamboozled England's strong batting line-up with indecipherable deliveries

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Kuldeep Yadav
5 for 24 v England, first T20I, Lord's


The X Factor is one of the most popular and most watched shows on television in the UK. The show provides a platform for unknowns to showcase their singing voice and skills, and has produced stars like One Direction, who have gone on to become household names. 

On a pleasant sunny day at Old Trafford last July, England were introduced to an X factor on the cricket field, one who instantly became a headline the next morning on the sports pages. Kuldeep grabbed a five-for in his maiden international match in England, picking up three wickets in an over, two of those off successive balls. Alex Hales, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Jos Buttler were his victims. Most, if not each of those five, can be match-winners on their day, but barring Buttler, all of them to read Kuldeep from the hand and fell victim to impatience.

A year ago, in Bengaluru, England had been tormented by another Indian wristspinner - leggie Yuzvendra Chahal with an award-winning six-for. Kuldeep decided to grab the honour this time around. Left-arm orthodox wristspin now had a poster boy.

Key moment


The match turned decisively in India's favour in Kuldeep's third over, where he got three wickets in the space of four deliveries. Morgan swept a slow, loopy delivery to the man placed to pouch just such an offering in the deep. Bairstow walked back dazed at being stumped attempting a drive against the wrong'un; and Root was embarrassed as he stretched in ungainly fashion to push at a delivery that pitched outside off and beat the outside edge, leaving him stumped.  

Make a good first impression: Kuldeep Yadav kicked off his maiden tour of England with a match-winning five-for © Getty Images

The numbers


1 Kuldeep's position on the list of best T20I performances by spinners in England. It was also the second best by all bowlers in England.

1 Number of Indian bowlers who have better T20I innings figures: Yuzvendra Chahal, with 6 for 25. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is tied with Kuldeep at No. 2, also with 5 for 24.

What they said


"In the first over I checked the wicket. It was a bit dry. There was a possibility of a little turn, but it didn't turn to begin with. Chahal told me it was not turning. It was stopping. Accordingly, I varied the pace a little. The batsman would need to use his feet"
- Kuldeep Yadav

"Taking three wickets in an over really set us back. Probably cost us 30-40 runs."
- England captain Eoin Morgan

The closest contenders


Billy Stanlake,  4 for 8 v Pakistan, Tri Series, Harare
Using the early moisture on a bouncy Harare pitch, Stanlake stunned Pakistan with a burst of fast bowling that saw him take four wickets in an unbroken spell of four overs.

Bhuvneshar Kumar, 5 for 24 v South Africa, first T20I, Johannesburg
Using the knuckleball and clever changes of pace on a flat pitch, Bhuvneshwar stopped an under-strength South Africa side, becoming the first Indian fast bowler to take a five-for in T20Is and also the first to take five-fors in all three formats in international cricket.

Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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