After World Cup blip, Chahal spins way into India hearts
During the post-selection press conference for the Bangladesh series, chief selector MSK Prasad’s comments that his committee “wanted to try out Yuzvendra Chahal” came as a surprise as Chahal, along with chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, had been India’s mainstays for the last couple of years.
They had often separated India from the rest, making the difference when it mattered. But that effectiveness fell apart at the World Cup as both proved ineffective with Yadav subsequently losing his spot in the squad. Their situation was somewhat similar to that of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who were dropped after the loss to Pakistan in the 2017 Champion Trophy final with India backing wrist spin ahead of finger spinners.
| ‘He has done extremely well for us,’ Rohit Sharma identifies player who gives Team India flexibility
With the T20 World Cup approaching, the team management has tried out spinners Washington Sundar, Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar as well with Jadeja also back in the fray.
Chahal has proved in this series that he can be a match-winner. In the second T20 in Rajkot played on a batting wicket, he stifled Bangladesh batsmen and dismissed the experienced Soumya Sarkar and Mushfiqur Rahim, claiming 2/28.
With almost a year to go for the T20 World Cup in Australia, Chahal and Jadeja look ahead in the race for places in the squad. “Chahal is an important cog in the wheel. He has proved that in this series and (showed) how important he can be in the middle overs,” stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma said.
“He exactly knows what the batsman is trying to do. He’s basically trying to stay ahead of the game, ahead of the batsman. That makes him a little more challenging for any batsman.”
Only the selectors and team management know whether Chahal was overlooked or rested after the World Cup. However, he has risen to become the third-highest wicket-taker in T20s for India, and also has the best strike-rate for a spinner in the format.
Chahal will get another opportunity to display his skills on a Nagpur pitch that won’t be as batsman-friendly as Rajkot.
With the series on the line, India can’t afford any mistakes by the bowlers. Barring Chahal, the bowling is a little thin on experience, especially with pacers Khaleel Ahmed and Deepak Chahar having played only a few matches. While Chahar has bowled well, Ahmed has gone for 81 runs in the first two matches.
| Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant spend time with Air Force pilots ahead of series decider
It is learnt Shardul Thakur may be chosen for Sunday’s series decider at the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground here. While Thakur went full tilt in the nets, left-arm pacer Ahmed worked on sharpening his bowling around the wicket under the supervision of bowling coach Bharat Arun.
Sharma doesn’t want to put pressure on his bowlers, and wants to use these matches to assess their abilities.
“This is the right time for them to learn. We always say you should play domestic cricket and learn. But I feel that till you play international cricket, you won’t know where you stand as a bowler.
“We have seen that in this format when you have one or two bad games you can come under pressure and are not able to execute your skills. But this is the time for these bowlers to understand their bowling and execute their skills fearlessly. They will only learn by playing more games. You need to trust your skills, only then will you get results in the future.”
Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo wants his batsmen to put pressure on India’s inexperienced bowling. “It’s no secret that they have got a reasonably inexperienced bowling attack. If we bat well and stick to our strategies, we can put their bowling under pressure.”