Express News Service
BENGALURU: It was a surprise call, whichever way you looked at it. Yuzvendra Chahal seemed a certainty to make the T20 World Cup squad. However, the selection committee, which picked up a power-packed squad, threw a surprise when it came to the spinners.
Keeping in mind the spinner-friendly conditions in the UAE, where the tournament will be played, they named five spinners in the 15-member squad.
Yet, there was no Chahal. The lone leg-spinner slot went to Rahul Chahar.
The reason offered by Chetan Sharma, the chairman of the selectors, was simple.
They needed a spinner, who could get the ball to spin quickly off the pitch, which Chahar is good at and one Chahal rarely does.
The latter is not a conventional leg-spinner in many ways.
For example, when he flights the ball, he prefers to bowl outside off and he will only resort to leg and middle-stump line only when he wants to send in a flat trajectory.
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s YuzvendraChahal celebrates the dismissal of PunjabKings’ Mayank Agarwal at Sharjah onSunday | sportzpicsIt must still be a tough pill to swallow for Chahal. There was a dip in form, most notably during the home leg of the ongoing IPL.
But he hasn’t let it continue for long like his other spin-twin Kuldeep Yadav, who is totally off the radar. Instead of sulking, Chahal has responded like how seasoned professionals do. Let the ball do all the talking.
It has been a statement of the highest order.
Chahal has picked up 10 wickets in his last five matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore, including a match-winning 3/29 against Punjab Kings on Sunday.
After beginning with two wicketless overs, it was Chahal who stepped up once the ball got soft.
This is what experience brings. Seize the moment, when a window opens. He removed Nicholas Pooran, Mayank Agarwal and Sarfaraz Khan — the latter with a peach — to break the back of Punjab. The six-run win meant Bangalore became the third team to make it to the play-offs.
There has been a sort of a trend for Bangalore in the UAE. They are yet to take a wicket in the powerplay, but it is during the middle overs, where they have taken control thanks through Chahal.
His control has been immaculate, doesn’t give many freebies. Not only has he contained runs, but the leg-spinner has also taken wickets whenever the team has needed them.
Put it simple, whenever Kohli has needed wickets, Chahal has provided, something the Indian captain will be missing at the World Cup.
With every good performance from Chahal, he is asking valid questions. So did selectors rush in dropping him? At the moment, the answer is loaded in favor of Chahal as his replacement Chahar has only two wickets to show in the UAE leg so far.
He has not conceded more than 30 runs in any single innings in the UAE so far this edition, which just shows that the bowler is on top of his game.
More importantly, the same cannot be said for Rahul Chahar, who got the nod ahead of Chahal in the World Cup squad.
The Mumbai Indians spinner, comparatively, has scalped two wickets in his four matches in the league so far. Whether the decision by the selectors is right or wrong, time will tell.
Brief scores: RCB 164/7 (Maxwell 57, Padikkal 40, Henriques 3/12, Shami 3/39) bt PBKS 158/6 (Agarwal 57, Rahul 39, Chahal 3/29).
vs Punjab 3/29vs Rajasthan 2/18vs Mumbai 3/11vs Chennai 1/26vs Kolkata 1/23
vs Punjab 1/27vs Bangalore 1/33vs Kolkata 0/34 (3 ovs)vs Chennai 0/22