Things haven't been the same for Kuldeep Yadav lately. The chinaman bowler, who formed a lethal combination with Yuzvendra Chahal at one point, finds himself on the fringe, struggling to get game time and revive his parched career. With age on his side, 26-year-old has got time to revive a career that currently looks in a muddle.
After making his Test return with the third Test against England, Kuldeep would've imagined a different picture. It is, however, safe to say things haven't planned out the way Kuldeep and the team management would have hoped for.
Kuldeep, who bowled just a bit more than 12 overs at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, was replaced by Washington Sundar in the third Test in India's bid to strengthen their batting unit.
Kuldeep still isn't in the Indian side's scheme of things for the fourth Test, revealed skipper Virat Kohli ahead of the fourth Test. It's the team combination that forces the management to leave the tweaker out of the Playing XI.
"There is no issue with skill or headspace. His (Kuldeep Yadav's) game is absolutely precise. He is bowling better than he has ever bowled before. Combinations, we need to make sure we cover all facets of the game and have our strongest talented squad on the park," said Kohli.
The Indian skipper also accepted that had Ravindra Jadeja been fully fit, chances of Kuldeep squeezing into the Playing XI would've been higher. After 'The Axar-Ashwin' show at the Motera, the hosts are likely to stick with the same combination in the spin department, leaving Kuldeep out of the equation.
On a dusty deck in Ahmedabad, there was no end to England's batting woes against Axar and Ashwin. England folded for 81 in their second innings, crashing out of the WTC final and handing India a 2-1 lead in the four-match series. "See if a (Ravindra) Jadeja is playing and then you are talking about a third spinner, then you know a Kuldeep (Yadav) comes into the picture way more.
"Because of Jadeja's experience with the bat, and the number of times he has done the job for the team, right now we are going in with Ash (Ravichandran Ashwin), Washy (Washington Sundar) is playing, Axar (Patel) is playing.
"It is all about combinations. If people are not good enough, they won’t be part of team India, it is as simple as that," said Kohli.
On the bowling front, Umesh Yadav looks like the only change in India's Playing XI. In Jasprit Bumrah's absence, Umesh's experience and ability to get reverse swing can help him make the side ahead of Mohammed Siraj. The Vidarbha pacer has taken 96 of his 148 Test wickets in 28 Tests at an average of 24.54 which is better than his career bowling average of 30.54.
"Umesh is ready to go. He is looking really good, bowling really well. He had good sessions in the nets. Really happy that he is back," India's Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane told the media.