Kuldeep Yadav did not play in the first three games of the series against Australia. On a Sydney wicket expected to assist the spinners, Kuldeep was selected and the chinaman bowler capitalised on the opportunity to take his second five-wicket haul in his maiden Test match in Australia. Kuldeep’s haul of 5/99 helped India take a 322-run lead and ensured Virat Kohli could enforce the follow-on against Tim Paine’s side on a rain-hit fourth day in the final Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground. In the process, Kuldeep entered a special list of left-arm spinners who made their mark Down Under.
Kuldeep became only the second Indian left-arm spinner and the first chinaman bowler to take a five-wicket haul in Australia. Before Kuldeep, Bishan Singh Bedi was the first left-arm spinner to take five-wicket hauls. Bedi took three five-wicket hauls in Australia and all came in the 1977/78 series, with his first one in Brisbane when he picked up 5/55. In Perth, he went one better and took 5/89 and 5/105 in Perth to also take a 10-wicket haul. The 24-year-old also became the first Indian spinner since Anil Kumble to take a five-wicket haul in Australia, with Kumble last taking 5/84 in the Melbourne Test in 2007.
The Uttar Pradesh bowler became the first left-arm spinner since Rangana Herath in 2012 to take a five-wicket haul in Australia. Herath, who recently retired from international cricket in the series against England, picked up a five-wicket haul in the Hobart Test. Thanks to his effort, India enforced the follow-on against Australia and it was the first time since 1986 that India had achieved the feat. Coincidentally, the first time they had made Australia follow-on was in Sydney.
Kuldeep had spun a web around the Australian batsmen on day 3 after Cheteshwar Pujara (193) and Rishabh Pant (159*) had helped India reach 622/7 declared, their second-highest score in Australia. He first accounted for Usman Khawaja (27) with a flighted delivery which the batsman miscued to Pujara at midwicket. His next victim was Travis Head (20) as the left-hander hit a low full toss back to the bowler. However, the dismissal of the day was Tim Paine (5) when he spun a sharp legbreak back and it went through the defences of the Australia captain.
On day 4, Mohammed Shami had removed Pat Cummins (25) with a ball that kept low and Kuldeep took his fourth wicket when Nathan Lyon (0) missed the sweep. The left-armer should have gotten his five-wicket haul immediately afterwards but Hanuma Vihari dropped Josh Hazlewood at midwicket after he miscued a slog. The partnership yielded 42 runs for the final wicket but Kuldeep had the last say, trapping Hazlewood (21) with a flatter delivery that skidded through.
In 2018, Kuldeep picked up a five-wicket haul in all formats to establish himself in the Indian cricket team. In 2019, he has started off with a bang with a five-wicket haul in the first match of the year.