Cutters, slower ones, knuckleballs, yorkers – Siddarth Kaul’s bowling revolved around them. They were the reason why he had two terrific IPLs – 16 wickets in 10 matches in 2017 and 21 wickets in 17 matches in 2018 – helping him break into the Indian side. But the same variations also took him away from his natural style of bowling, the one which was based on swing, line and length. When a few yorkers didn’t land perfectly, some cutters didn’t seem so deceptive anymore and the knuckles didn’t dish out the dream delivery, Kaul lost the zip in his bowling. An ordinary IPL in 2019 – 6 wickets in 7 matches – pushed him away from India colours. Kaul knew it was time to go back to the basics.
He started spending long hours in the nets fine-tuning his primary skills – the in swing, out swing, line, and length. He had good a Vijay Hazare Trophy – domestic one-dayers – picking up 16 wickets in 8 matches at an average of 17.93. The subtle adjustments had started getting results but he was some distance away from being at top of his game. Kaul had an indifferent Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s but it all came together a few weeks later with the red ball. In 4 matches, Kaul has picked up 25 wickets in the ongoing Ranji Trophy at an average of 12.92 (the best in Ranji Trophy Elite Group after Jaydev Unadkat’s 11.86), leading Punjab’s hopes of making it to the knockout stages.
“Don’t think I changed anything. I just went back to the basics. I needed to figure out how to use my natural swing. I worked on my consistency, started using the crease, got the inswing and outswing going,” Kaul told Hindustan Times.
Kaul has picked up a five-for in all his last three matches. His last five-for against Andhra Pradesh also included a hat-trick. The interesting fact about that hat-trick was not only how he uprooted the middle stump of all three batsmen, but also how he used the crease to create an angle.
“I was developing this thing (going wide of the crease) for a long time, was working on this even in last season but this has come good this time around. I want the batsman to keep guessing,” Kaul said.
Kaul’s success has been not limited to bowling with the new ball. In fact, he has got more than 10 wickets bowling with the old cherry. “Your plan cannot be similar. It has to change based on match situations. When you have the opposition at 10 for 3, you bowl differently, you attack more but when they are 80 for no loss, only swing can’t get you breakthroughs, you have to do something else and be patient,” added Kaul.
Despite his good returns in domestic cricket, Kaul has somehow fallen behind the pecking the order as far as the Indian pace attack is concerned. “I think about giving my 110% whichever team I’m playing for. My job is to play and perform for my team. I can’t think much about selection. If the selectors think I’m good enough, I’ll make a comeback. It’s their call,” said Kaul, who last played a T20I against Australia in February 2019.