Wrist spinners are talk of the town in Indian cricket fraternity at the moment. The selector’s faith has reaped fruitful results with Yuzvendra Chahal slowly developing into a deadly weapon alongside Kuldeep Yadav in shorter formats. Chahal has been impressive since his introduction into the Indian side. A canny leg-spinner, Chahal checkmates his opponents with guile and shrewdness.
Chahal has developed into an integral part of this dominating Indian side and has meant business whenever puts in the hard yards. His success in the Indian Premier League played a huge role in his journey to the Indian side. And the wily leggie has lived up to the expectations. One of the interesting things about Chahal’s run that he has managed to take his game to the next level
It is often said, leg-spinners are wicket-taking options. They might leak runs, but yield wickets. One needs to invest in them in order to get the best out. Chahal is an attacking bowler, who looks for wickets rather being defensive. This is also one of the primary reasons behind his success, he goes for the kill. If the opposition has a better plan against him, he will find a way to work a batsman out. He seldom gets played or dominated.
Skipper Virat Kohli has shown immense faith in Chahal’s abilities and used him as a weapon not only in the Indian side, but also for Royal Challengers Bangalore side in the IPL. It is very important for a bowler to have captain’s faith, especially for a wrist-spinner.
Chahal summed it up well in a interview with livemint.com saying, “The key to our bowling has been taking wickets. Both Kuldeep and I are attacking spinners. We don’t mind giving away 10-15 extra runs as long as batsmen are attacking us, because we know that we will end up taking their wickets. The team management has backed us, allowing us to attack the opposition. If things don’t go our way, there is also a plan B in place to help us. But Virat Kohli has impressed upon us the importance of taking wickets. If you don’t take wickets in ODI cricket, you cannot win, so he has backed us to attack the batsmen all the times.”
India made an astounding comeback in the second One-Day International (ODI) series against Sri Lanka in Mohali. India were demolished in the first game at Dharamsala and the onus of making a comeback was on the home side. After Rohit Sharma’s record double ton steered India to a commanding position, Chahal stood out with the ball to help India record a much-needed win. Although Rohit hogged all the headlines for his third ODI double ton, but Chahal’s performance cannot be overlooked.
Chahal finished with figures of 3 for 60 in a high-scoring game and cleaned the middle-order single-handedly. He lured the batsmen to go big and silently outfoxed them, this has also been the pattern for Chahal’s dismissals. Chahal does not have a lot of variations in his basket, but banks with relentless accuracy and impeccable control with the leather.
At first, Chahal, got the better of Niroshan Dickwella with a delivery that had a bit of extra bounce and was wide outside off stump. He went for the cut but lacked timing due to the hint of bounce and the catch went straight to Washington Sundar as Chahal celebrated his first scalp of the night.
Chahal’s second wicket that of Asela Gunaratne was probably his best of the day. After being hit for a boundary on the first delivery of the over, the pressure was on Chahal. In an attempt to milk as many runs as possible from this over, Gunaratne went down the track on the second delivery, but Chahal was too hot to handle. The leggie responded with a slow conventional leg-break, which turned away from the right-hander and rested safely in MS Dhoni’s gloves only to be stumped comfortably.
Moments later, Chahal got the better of Sri Lankan skipper Thisara Perera with a tight line. He didn’t provide any room to Perera as he went for a slog but only managed a faint edge, which was brilliantly cupped by Dhoni. Chahal was the unsung hero, but continues to develop in stature and a bowler, he has grown in confidence.
Chahal is a smart cricketer apart from being talented; he is a fine example of brute force and finesse. He has the ingredients to succeed against the red ball as well. One can only afford to underestimate his intelligence at their own peril. You seldom see Chahal being hit for a big six because of the kind of accuracy and a tight line he maintains.
In the recently concluded series against Australia, the battle between Chahal and Glenn Maxwell was one of the folklore. But Chahal always had the last laugh, in fact, he dominated Maxwell and got the better of him. This speaks the kind of homework he does and did well to tame a monster.
Along with Yadav, Chahal has formed a lethal spin pair in shorter formats. India have not at all hesitated in playing two wrist-spinners in the playing XI, which also speaks about the level of faith they have in the duo. He is a handy customer with the bat as well, which he smartly displayed in the first encounter. On a pitch, where wickets tumbled like nine pins, Chahal stood his ground and gave the hard-hitting Dhoni to go berserk. With the 2019 World Cup approaching, Chahal will be one of the key bowlers for the big tournament.
When asked about the plans for 2019 World Cup, Chahal further said, “We do not think we have replaced Ashwin and/ or Jadeja. They are the world’s top-ranked spinners and you just cannot take away their expertise or experience. The World Cup is still quite far off and a lot of cricket is still to be played before that. At best, as a spin group, we think about playing overseas the next year or so, and gaining experience in conditions that might be the same as those on offer during the World Cup.”
As of now, with the series being equally poised between both the sides, one can expect the decider to be a thriller. Chahal so far has been impressive and it’s just a matter of time when he establishes himself as the leader of the spin attack. With time, one can only expect him to get better.