x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 October 2017

India's Kuldeep Yadav excited but nervous to replace Ravindra Jadeja in Pallekele cricket Test

Left-arm wrist spinner will likely play after Jadeja is banned for third and final Test against Sri Lanka on disciplinary grounds.

Kuldeep Yadav, centre, made an impressive Test debut against Australia at Dharamshala earlier this year. Prakash Singh / AFP
Kuldeep Yadav, centre, made an impressive Test debut against Australia at Dharamshala earlier this year. Prakash Singh / AFP

India's Kuldeep Yadav said on Wednesday he felt both excited and nervous before the final Test against Sri Lanka as the left-arm wrist spinner prepared to fill in for suspended star bowler Ravindra Jadeja.

Kuldeep is expected to make the starting XI in the Test at Pallekele starting on Saturday in place of Jadeja, who was handed a one-match ban for dangerous play in India's last Test against Sri Lanka, which the tourists won by an innings and 53 runs in Colombo.

The 22-year-old spinner made an impressive Test debut against Australia in India in March before going on to claim eight wickets in five one-day international appearances between June and July against the West Indies.

"If I get a chance to play in Sri Lanka I will be very happy because I have been working hard and this will be a result of that. So obviously excited," Kuldeep said. "But also there is nervousness that I should be able to perform."

Watch Kuldeep's debut performance against Australia

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Kuldeep joined the squad for the three-Test series in Sri Lanka, but the presence of the world's No 1 Test bowler Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin denied him a slot in the starting line up.

Despite being overshadowed, the Kanpur-born player said exposure to these two star spinners had served him well.

"Definitely you will have to wait for your chance if the No 1 and No 2 spinners are in the same squad as you," Kuldeep said. "It is good that I have worked with them and I have been in the team with them for last six to seven months. I try to stay with them mostly and keep talking to them and they help me a lot."

Kuldeep, one of the few left-arm unorthodox spinners alongside Sri Lanka's Lakshan Sandakan and South African Tabraiz Shamsi, said the style was gaining in popularity.

"When I started there were hardly any," he said, adding cricket academies were honing more unorthodox bowlers. "It is a happy feeling that people have recognised this skill."

Indians train in the nets

Meanwhile, former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga has blamed his team's string of humiliating defeats on the country's cricket chief and demanded his investigation by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

In what could be the opening shots of a new bid to head Sri Lanka Cricket, Ranatunga, 53, told Agence France-Presse there was no "proper discipline" in the national team which has had a horror run of results.

Prior to their defeat in Colombo, Sri Lanka were crushed in the first Test at Galle by 304 runs. They are now fighting to avoid a whitewash in the three-Test series.

Sri Lanka also suffered an early exit from the Champions Trophy, and lost a one-day series at home to bottom ranked Zimbabwe last month.

Ranatunga accused Sri Lanka Cricket president Thilanga Sumathipala, 52, of being involved in gambling - a claim Sumathipala denies - and said he should not be allowed to hold office.

"There is no proper discipline in the team, [but] no point in blaming the cricketers when they get involved in all these gambling things. First they have to get the officials in order," Ranatunga said.

There have been reports of attempts to approach Sri Lankan players for alleged match-fixing.

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Several officials, umpires and players have been suspended or fined for involvement in match-fixing or refusing to cooperate with investigations.

Ranatunga said the ICC should investigate Sumathipala over alleged gambling links and the conduct of the Sri Lankan board.

"I want to know if the ICC has a backbone to check if these people [Sri Lanka Cricket management] are in compliance with ethics standards," Ranatunga added.

There was no immediate comment from the ICC. But Sumathipala denied the allegation and accused Ranatunga of a smear campaign in a bid to take over the board.

Sumathipala said Sri Lanka's sports ministry and the ICC had both cleared him to hold office at SLC, as well as at the Asian Cricket Council and ICC.

"I deny any involvement personally, directly or indirectly with gaming business," Sumathipala said.

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He also slammed Ranatunga, Sri Lanka's minister of petroleum, for accusing President Maithripala Sirisena's government of failing to protect the game.

"If he wants to criticise the government, he must first resign," Sumathipala, said adding that allegations are frequently made against the board when the national team performs badly. "Every time the game is affected at the middle, Sri Lanka cricketers are not performing to the expectation, we hear this kind of noise coming from the same quarter."

He added that Ranatunga was hoping to oust him as Sri Lanka's cricket chief, a position he tried and failed to secure in elections in January 2016.

"The same man [Ranatunga] is continuously making every effort undemocratically, unethically to hold office of Sri Lanka Cricket, even when he has been democratically defeated more than once," Sumathipala said.

Ranatunga and his younger brother Nishantha stood against Sumathipala at last year's board elections and lost. The next elections are due in five months.