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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2018 ODI bowling winner: Kuldeep Yadav, the riddler

Not many in England had seen the likes of Kuldeep Yadav in action before, and it showed in the way they played him

George Dobell
George Dobell
Kuldeep Yadav celebrates a wicket, England v India, 1st ODI, Nottingham, July 12, 2018

Kuldeep Yadav's performance was the best by a left-arm spinner in ODIs  •  Getty Images

Trent Bridge was meant to be England's ODI stronghold. In the previous two completed ODIs on the ground, they had scored 481 and 444 - both new world records for the format - and just two months earlier they had overtaken India to go to No. 1 in the ODI rankings.
But England hadn't seen anything like Kuldeep in either of those games. Playing his first ODI in England, he offered control, variation and, perhaps most importantly of all, something different in the form of left-arm wristspin. Most of the England batsmen reacted as if they had never seen anything like it before - and that wasn't so far from the truth.
There was more than novelty at play here, though. Kuldeep maintained immaculate control - he did not concede a boundary in his ten-over spell - and, in running through his variations, defeated Jonny Bairstow with a googly and Joe Root with a delivery that spun in and seemed to beat him by several inches. England simply couldn't read him.
While the other India bowlers (well, those who bowled more than three overs, anyway) conceded more than five-an-over, Kuldeep yielded just 2.5, dismissing five of the top six - including Jason Roy, Root and Bairstow within ten deliveries - in the process.

Key moment

England had made a good start: they were 71 without loss after ten when Kuldeep was introduced. Roy put away the first ball nicely enough, sweeping for two. But the immediate introduction of a leg slip made waiting on the back foot and looking to turn the ball behind square far more dangerous. So Roy, no longer presented with a release stroke, attempted a reverse sweep. Such was the drift on the ball, however, that he was never in a good position to play it. The resultant top edge flew to point. Seventy-three for none was to prove the high-water mark of England's innings: within moments they were 82 for 3, with the cream of their batting gone.

The numbers

11 for 49 Kuldeep's combined figures in his first T20I and first ODI in England within nine days in July.
5 for 32 The previous best figures by a left-arm wristspinner in an ODI, claimed by Brad Hogg.
3 The number of India bowlers with better ODI figures. Stuart Binny's 6 for 4 heads the list.

What they said

"I don't think I've seen a better ODI spell in a while."
- Virat Kohli

The closest contenders

Trent Boult, 5 for 17 v Pakistan, third ODI, Dunedin
Boult, generating pace and movement, sentenced Pakistan to the lowest total for a visiting side in an ODI in New Zealand, claiming his side's best ODI figures against Pakistan in the process. At one stage Pakistan were 32 for 8.
Adil Rashid, 3 for 49 v India, third ODI, Leeds
The figures might look unremarkable, but there was one moment that was exceptional. Virat Kohli, long since established as the best ODI batsman of the age, looked well set on 71 when Rashid turned one sharply past his outside edge to take the top of off stump. Kohli's look of disbelief underlined both the importance of the moment and the perfection of the delivery.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo