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Opinion

Sangakkara: Moeen & Kuldeep will thrive, Rashid right to focus on white ball

by Wisden Staff 9 minute read

Adil Rashid has made a “good decision” to step away from red-ball cricket and Moeen Ali is comfortably England’s “best spinner”, says Wisden Cricket Monthly columnist Kumar Sangakkara.

The legendary Sri Lanka batsman, who has faced some first-rate spinners in his time, also told Wisden.com that left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav is “brilliant for the game of cricket and for India” and could have a “huge” influence on the outcome of the much-anticipated five-Test series between England and India, which starts on August 1.

Kuldeep Yadav celebrates after dismissing Joe Root during the first ODI

Captain Virat Kohli and the India selectors are currently running the rule over Kuldeep, who grabbed the limelight in the first ODI with 6-25 at Trent Bridge.

England, meanwhile, are also in a bit of a spin. Somerset duo Dom Bess and Jack Leach are in the frame after Moeen Ali endured a below-par winter, while some have called for Rashid to be given an opportunity despite his exile from four-day cricket with his county.

The Yorkshire spinner took 3-49 in the third ODI, which included bamboozling India icon Kohli with a fizzing leg-break, leaving the India captain in a state of shock that went viral.

Rashid left Kohli staring down the pitch looking completely baffled after bowling him with a beauty in the third ODI

Rashid left Kohli staring down the pitch looking completely baffled after bowling him with a beauty in the third ODI

But despite Rashid’s epic delivery and overall effectiveness in the ODI game, Sangakkara does not believe the leg-spinner has the credentials to transfer those skills into Test cricket, despite the spinner being open to a Test return.

“Adil Rashid bowls well in a one-day context, but bowling in four-day or Test cricket is very different,” said Sangakkara. “You have to be absolutely accurate and bowl line and length for long periods. You can’t bowl all your variations over after over, and your field doesn’t give you the same amount of comfort that one-day cricket does.

It’s unlikely Adil Rashid will add to his ten Test caps during this series

“The batsmen are under no pressure to score continuously, so the pressure is always on the bowler and I don’t think Adil is comfortable holding his fortitude when that happens.”

“He’s made a very pragmatic and good decision concentrating on white-ball cricket because it gives him more margin for error and the ability to express himself and experiment with his bowling.”

The former Sri Lanka international is also backing all-rounder Moeen Ali to return to form this summer, whom he believes is England’s premier spinner.

Rashid and Moeen celebrate a wicket during the first Test between Bangladesh and England in 2016

“Moeen Ali is a much better spinner than Dom Bess – overall, he has a lot more to offer the English Test side,” he said. “He bowled beautifully against India in the last two ODIs, he took 19 wickets the last time India were in England and I don’t think they should look beyond him.”

“I think they need to understand that he is their best spinner and not just a batsman who can spin. I think any spinner that plays should be picked for his bowling first and then his batting second.

Kumar Sangakkara believes Moeen Ali is England’s standout Test match spin bowler

Sangakkara is backing 23-year-old Kuldeep, who has played 35 internationals in limited overs cricket, to add to his two Test caps this summer, and believes his skillset and temperament are ready to cause England problems in the five-day arena.

“Kuldeep bowled well against Sri Lanka when he got that opportunity,” he said. “He doesn’t try too hard and that’s the difference between an Adil Rashid and a Kuldeep Yadav. Kuldeep’s natural flight and bowling speed can help in Test cricket – he is so accurate and it’s a very old-fashioned style. It’s not too much about varying pace, but more varying line and deliveries that’s really made him so successful.

Kuldeep Yadav has an outside chance of making India’s team for the first Test

“In ODI cricket, when batsmen have started to read him he has had to make a few adjustments to his pace and his length and be a bit more unpredictable, but he is so effective because he challenges you off a length ball over and over again. I think he will go very well in Test cricket.

“He’s been brilliant for the game of cricket and for India. He’s a smart bowler, difficult to read and has great strength of character to come back from taking punishment and is always looking for ways to take wickets.

“I think Kohli enjoys having him in the side, and when your captain backs you and you are a wrist-spinner, and understand how wrist-spinning works, it’s a game of give and take. He could be huge if used properly and I think will be a great addition to the Test side.”

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