LUCKNOW: Kuldeep Yadav is a weaver from UP, an art that is embedded in this State from chickan salwar suits to carpets.
Very often these days, Yadav weaves a different kind of magic on a cricket field. With a ball in hand, England were 52/4, having ground 13 runs for the fifth wicket partnership. Then came the slow snake-like approach, a turn of the wrist as the ball flighted through the air like a noose about to encircle the neck of the convicted. On this occasion, it was the English captain Jos Butler
And just when the jazz had played out, it was time for a short burst of rock and roll. Mohammad Shami was brought back for a second spell. His first ball pitched perfectly got the outside edge of Moeen’s bat and Rahul did the rest. The bowler jumped, Kohli sprinted, racing towards his captain Rohit Sharma at a speed which could have gotten India a 100-metre Olympic medal, and lifted him off his feet. The two elder statesmen, fathers of little girls, were just simple schoolboys enjoying the simple delights of a sport that is their life.
Of course, the veterans of India’s merry band of fast bowlers set it up. Bumrah was at his nagging best but on this Sunday, Mohammad Shami bowled one of the finest spells of fast bowling in the history of Indian cricket, He was relentless. Look at his match figures 7-2-22-4!
He was followed by that weaver we spoke about and a flute player who is simply called SIR.
But a quick focus on the leader of this band, Jasprit Bumrah - with a ball in hand is both a musician and a magician. He began India’s defence of a low 229 total with a nagging length that got Malan to chop. The very next ball got Joe plumb in front before he took Root. Bumrah pitched it up, it skid along the deck and crashed into Root’s pads.
Soon after, Shami bowled three outside the off stump to Ben Stokes before angling one in crashing onto his middle and leg stump in the last ball of his second. In the first ball of his third, the tune changed the other way. He bowled at full throttle and nipped the ball back, a beauty, to get the stumps rattled.
There was one piece not yet brought into play. The flute player. Ravindra Jadeja saw Chris Woakes, dragged the length back and darted the ball in, catching Woakes outside his crease. In the world of rap music, this was sublime romantic poetry.
Two balls later, Kuldeep Yadav - the weaver - was back in business, taking the living daylights out of Livingstone. He tossed up the leather ball with his spell woven in it. The ball held its line around the middle, and when it landed, Livingstone didn’t read the googly and was struck on the pad. The plum-best LBW was reviewed as a fervent prayer. But the Gods weren’t quite smiling for England.
Even they sat back to listen to India’s bowling concert.