On a day when Brendon McCullum was making India's best Test bowlers slog on a tepid Basin Reserve pitch in Wellington and inching towards a historic triple century, an India versus Scotland match would normally not grab much attention. But Monday's (February 17) under-19 ICC World Cup group league match in Dubai became special for Kuldeep Yadav, who spun into the history books for becoming the first Indian to take a hat-trick at this level of cricket. The left-arm 'chinaman' bowler, a rare breed in the world of cricket, has suddenly become a much-talked about talent as Team India gropes for success overseas.
Yadav's hat-trick spanned two overs. Nick Farrar, Kyle Stirling and Alex Baum became part of 'history' as Yadav spun a web with his unique style. Yadav finished with figures of four for 28 as Scotland were sent packing for 88. The hat-trick pitchforked unheralded Yadav into the spotlight as the media found something to cheer about as Mahendra Singh Dhoni's bowlers continued to toil in Wellington.
Left-arm chinaman bowlers are a rare breed. It wasn't surprising that the Scots found his unique action and style confounding. At the international level, Australian Brad Hogg, Paul Adams of South Africa used chinaman (basically a leg-spinning googly that comes out from the back of the hand and is dangerous delivery for any batsman who commits to it too quickly) to good effect and bamboozled the best of batsmen. (Also read: Yadav's family ecstatic)
Coming from a middle-class family in Kanpur, 19-year-old Yadav is a shining example of talent emerging from smaller cities. Son of a brickfield businessman, Yadav joined a cricket academy simply to keep himself fit. He began his life as a pacer but Yadav's coach Kapil Pandey suggested he bowls spin. As luck would have it, the first 'slow' ball Yadav bowled was a chinaman. Pandey, thus, wanted Yadav to hone this 'special' skill.
Yadav is yet to make his first-class debut but has represented Uttar Pradesh under-19s and was also part of Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League. In 2012, Yadav was among the five uncapped players taken by Mumbai Indians. This year, Kolkata Knight Riders bought him at the auction for Rs 40 lakh, four times his base price of 10 lakh. In a competition that has space for spinners, chinaman will be a handy option.
Yadav had the good fortune to meet his idols Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore and was able to pick up important tips from them. The youngster maintains that he tries getting into the head of the batsman to see how his opponent thinks. "I judge a batsman by how he plays me in the first few balls and then plan accordingly," Yadav said ahead of the World Cup. "If the batsman is struggling to pick me, I try and set him up carefully before sneaking in a variation. If he's set, I keep bowling to my field and control the game," he said, explaining how his role varies from taking wickets to containing runs.
The term 'chinaman' has an interesting origin. It was a Test match between England and West Indies at Old Trafford, Manchester in 1933. Elliss "Puss" Achong, was a left-arm unorthodox spinner who was representing West Indies while his origin was China. It is said that Achong had Walter Robins stumped off a surprise delivery that spun into the right-handed batsman from outside the off stump. As Robins walked back to the pavilion, he said to the umpire, "Fancy being done in by a bloody Chinaman!". This led to the term being popularly used in England and that resulted of it becoming a universal adjective to describe left-arm spinners with unorthodox actions.
There is a certain element of 'brain' attached to this delivery. The historic hat-trick has only put Yadav in much focus. Here's hoping that Yadav cleverly uses 'chinaman' to regularly fill his bag of wickets and spin his team to glory.