In the build up to India’s ICC Under-19 World Cup match against Scotland, there were a few eyes on Kuldeep Yadav as he had not been effective against Pakistan. He had been quicker through the air, flatter in trajectory and had failed to derive enough purchase from the pitch.
By the time Scotland, who had elected to bat, was bowled out for 88 in 29.4 overs at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Monday (February 17), Yadav had shown why he is rated highly at this level.
Yadav became the first Indian to claim a hat-trick in the history of the tournament, and along with Aamir Gani, the offspinner, bamboozled the Scotland batsmen. They returned identical figures of 4 for 28, and then Sarfaraz Khan and Deepak Hooda survived a spirited Scotland attack to take India home by five wickets in 22.3 overs, after it was reduced to 22 for 5 at one stage.
Before Gani and Yadav got into attack, the new ball pair of Chama Milind and Avesh Khan reaped a wicket each within the first six overs. Ross McLean, Scotland’s captain, edged a hook shot off Milind and was caught by Gani at long leg, and Avesh trapped Michael English in front of the wicket.
Andrew Umeed and Zander Muir seemed to have stopped the rut when Gani got the breakthrough in the 18th over. Muir went back to cut, but broke the stumps with his back leg.
Gani impressed with his ability to give a good loop and was very slow in the air, forcing the batsmen to wait for the ball. It made life difficult for the Scotland players, who were acquainted to the ball coming much quicker to the bat.
Yadav started with a pace that suited Scotland, but soon picked up the trick of cutting down on the speed from Gani, and the rewards were immediate.
In the penultimate ball of his fifth over, Nick Farrar played a sweep shot a bit early and top-edged a simple catch to Hooda at square leg. In the next delivery, Kyle Stirling could not pick a wrong one and offered no shot. Enamul Haque had no hesitation in raising his finger. Alex Baum played out Gani, but at the start of Yadav’s next over missed the line of his defence and was bowled to give Yadav his hat-trick.
The last time any Indian had picked up a hat-trick at the U-19 level was in November 2003, when Irfan Pathan had picked up the last three Bangladesh wickets in an Asia Cup match at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Gani joined the party when Chris Sole failed to read a straight delivery and edged it to be caught behind on the second attempt.
In that game in Lahore, none of the Bangladeshi batsmen had reached double figures, but on Monday, Umeed saved Scotland from that enormity with an impressive 44 that was filled with strokes on the offside. He spent 102 minutes in the middle to wage a lone battle, but Gani caught him unawares with a faster delivery that turned sharply to disturb the stumps.
Mark Watt edged Yadav to slip, and then Sanju Samson took a diving catch at long on to give Gani his fourth wicket and bring an end to the innings.
The lunch break was delayed, and inspired by the Indian spinners, Scotland opened its attack with spinners and it proved to be a masterstroke as Chayank Gosain, the Indian-origin left-arm spinner, had Akhil Herwadkar, Vijay Zol and Ankush Bains in quick time. Sanju Samson was unfortunate to be adjudged lbw off Gavin Main though the television replays suggested that the ball was missing the leg stump. Ricky Bhui checked his shot to be caught at midwicket.
With the team in deep trouble, Sarfaraz once again rose to the occasion, and with Hooda took India to victory just before the scheduled lunch break.
After, Sarfaraz hit a lofted a six over extra cover to the level the score, he and Hooda broke into a celebratory jig in the middle and it brought the smile back on the face of Bharati Arun, the team’s coach, who was visibly fuming after the early collapse.