DHARAMSHALA: Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav made a memorable debut with a four-wicket haul that negated Steve Smith’s defiant hundred as India bowled out Australia for 300 on an engrossing opening day of the fourth and final cricket Test, here on Saturday.
The 22-year-old Kuldeep, who replaced injured skipper Viart Kohli, returned figures of four for 68 in 23 overs after Australia decided to bat and made a resounding start.
India’s first ever left-arm wrist spinner in Test cricket, Kuldeep bamboozled Australian batsmen in a terrific post-lunch spell, accounting for David Warner (56), Peter Handscomb (8) and Glenn Maxwell (8).
India did not score any run or lost wicket in the single over bowled by Josh Hazlewood before stumps were drawn.
This was after the visitors were on a roll during the opening session, courtesy skipper’s Smith quality knock of 111. Scoring his third century of the series, Smith along with Warner added 134 runs for the second wicket before Kuldeep weaved his spin magic.
Keeper-batsman Matthew Wade’s (57) rear guard effort stemmed the rot after the middle-order collapse with Australia managing to reach 300-run mark.
Umesh Yadav (2/69 in 15 overs) once again played his part to perfection while Ravichandran Ashwin (1/54 in 23 overs) got the all-important wicket of Smith, who edged one to stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane at slip at stroke of tea. Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar also had a wicket apiece.
But it was the Kanpur lad, who turned things around after a gloomy first session. In fact the second session saw Australia lose five wickets for 71 runs with home team taking control of the proceedings.
It was surprise element in Kuldeep’s bowling that caught the Australian team on wrong foot.
Credit should be given to Rahane, who showed a lot of faith in the youngster by giving him an extended spell.
All three batsmen dismissed during the post-lunch session were guilty of not reading Kuldeep from his hand, trying to play him off the pitch.
The extra bounce also helped his cause as Warner, after doing all the hardwork, tried to play a cut shot close to his body but the delivery bounced wee bit more and a thick edge flew to Rahane at first slip.
Kuldeep was in tears after getting his maiden Test wicket. After the over, Kohli was seen having a chat with the youngster at the boundary line.
Australia’s Ranchi Test saviour Handscomb shaped for a cover drive to a fullish delivery that turned in to breach his defence. Maxwell was in a daze as he got the classical wrong’ un (googly for right-arm leg-break) as he tried to play for the turn only to find the bails dislodged.
Every wicket that the youngster got had coach Anil Kumble stand up and applaud.
Kuldeep’s fourth victim was Pat Cummins (21), who was deceived by the flight as he offered a simple return catch.
Shreyas Iyer as 12th man had his moment under the sun when his flat throw from square leg found Steve O’Keefe (8) short of his ground with Wriddhiman Saha doing the glovework.
For Australia, it was yet another gutsy effort from the skipper en route his 20th hundred in the longest format. He hit 14 boundaries in his knock that came off 173 balls.
A nice tickle down the leg side got him to the three-figure mark, a feat that was acknowledged with standing ovation from the spectators.
However, the tempo that he had set in the first phase was lost as he ran out of partners in the second session. He had to curb his strokeplay once Warner was out and then another senior Shaun Marsh (4) got one into his rib cage from Umesh only to offer an easy leg-side catch to Wriddhiman Saha.