Yuzvendra Chahal understands his role in T20 cricket. He values dot balls and knows how to apply pressure. His loopy flight traps the flamboyant batters in the middle overs. The leg-spinner did not claim a T20I five-for post the six-wicket haul against England in 2017, but the batters haven’t been able to score off him either. The one or two-odd wickets have often turned the tide for India and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Chahal’s exclusion from the preliminary 15-member India squad for the T20 World Cup raised eyebrows. Being quicker in the air and having been part of two IPL triumphs for Mumbai Indians, Rahul Chahar got the nod ahead of the seasoned campaigner.
But the spinner who has been making all the noise in the UAE leg of the 2021 edition is Chahal. He picked up 11 wickets in the last six appearances for RCB with best figures of 3/11 against Mumbai Indians.
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The ICC deadline to make changes to the squad is October 10, and there is absolutely no reason to not include the crafty leg-spinner who is Virat Kohli’s go-to man in the IPL.
Besides Harshal Patel, it was Chahal who had a strong hand in guiding RCB to the playoffs; coincidentally happening at the United Arab Emirates, one of the venues for the T20 World Cup.
Overall, in the ongoing IPL, he has 15 wickets in 13 games, 114 dot balls and a maiden over.
Yuzvendra Chahal featured in the limited overs series against Sri Lanka. – AP
The mind game
Since Chahal was a chess player, he is ahead of others when it comes to mind games. He has staged comebacks after being demolished by batters; the thrashing (0/64) by Heinrich Klaasen in South Africa in 2018 tops the list.
In the next series, the Nidahas Trophy in Colombo, Chahal was the best bowler in the final with figures of 3/18 at an economy of 4.50. He had dismissed the big guns Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Soumya Sarkar. The cricketing fraternity remembers the final for Dinesh Karthik’s last-ball six that clinched the title for India.
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He backs his googlies, and if he gets turn from the surface, he prefers not to flight the ball too much. It minimises the risk of being hit for a six. The dot balls eventually lead to dismissals.
The middle-overs man
Chahal bowls his best between the seventh and the 15th over of a T20 inning. He is the perfect dish to serve once the batters feel complacent after a handsome powerplay. Many times, he has got rid of dangerous openers such as Quinton de Kock and Mayank Agarwal after they thought they had figured the wicket out in the first six.
Yuzvendra Chahal celebrates the fall of a wicket with his RCB team-mates. – SPORTZPICS
Chahar’s selection was largely guarded by his IPL performances with 13 wickets in 2019, followed by 15 in the UAE edition in 2020. In the same year, Chahal picked up 21 wickets in 15 outings for RCB at an average of 19.28, and he continues to wreak havoc in the desert.
Chahal’s statistics in the UAE will perhaps convince the selectors. In 21 games thus far, ahead of the clash against Delhi Capitals, Chahal has 32 wickets at an average of 16.51, and at an economy of 6.81.
There is no trace of Chahar in the second leg of the IPL after two wickets in four games. Chahal prospered in the first T20I in Sri Lanka, too, by bowling 10 dots and picking a wicket for just 19 in his four overs.
The young Chahar will get plenty of opportunities to create magic in World Cups, but going by current form, it will be unfortunate if India misses the Chahal trick in the mega event, which begins next week.