There has been a dearth of genuine all-rounders and quality spinners for the Indian cricket team. Both departments can do with some options.
The Indian captains have been over-dependent on off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, with left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and leg-spinner Amit Mishra playing the supporting role.
With Mishra in the twilight of his career, the emergence of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal may have come as a relief to the national selectors. Chahal claimed seven wickets in four matches during India A’s quadrangular series victory Down Under, with a four for 34 in the final match against Australia ‘A’ on Sunday.
The performance comes soon after a good show for the Dhoni-led Indian team to Zimbabwe in June where he claimed nine wickets in three ODIs and T20Is. The leg-spinner has emerged as the main gain from the one-day series Down Under between the second-string sides of India, Australia and South Africa.
India A skipper Manish Pandey, Mandeep Singh and Kedar Jadhav may have impressed with their bats in the quadrangular series, but the packed Indian Test batting line-up will mean that they would require some patience for now. Pandey is already part of the one-day set-up.
Chahal’s career took off in 2014, when he moved from Mumbai Indians to Royal Challengers Bangalore. In his first year with Mumbai Indians, Chahal had warmed the bench in the IPL, but played all the matches when they won the 2011 Champions League. In the next two years, Chahal managed to get just one game in the IPL.
Royal Challengers Bangalore picked Chahal in the auction for just Rs 10 lakh after the diminutive Haryana spinner impressed them with figures of two for nine in the 2011 Champions League final with MI.
He soon became a regular member of Kohli’s playing XI. In the last IPL, Chahal finished with 21 wickets in 13 matches — two behind tournament’s highest wicket-taker Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Bharat Arun, RCB’s assistant coach, is impressed by Chahal’s fearless attitude.
“To be able to trouble some of the best batsmen in the world in the (RCB) nets can definitely build your self-confidence. That experience has helped him and that’s where he grew as a spinner. He is not afraid of making mistakes while experimenting. This fearless mindset is his greatest asset,” said the former India bowling coach.
“When the chips are down, he likes to take up the challenge. It is an important quality for a bowler. Talent is an overrated word. What you do with the talent is important. You need a great mindset to utilise that talent. It is about discovering yourself… to be able to believe that you can do this,” added Arun.
The two four-day matches versus Australia ‘A’ in Brisbane from September 8 will be important for Chahal to absolutely convince the selectors and emerge as a real threat for Mishra in the Indian team.
“More quality spinners make the competition healthier. It is good to have a group of quality spinners. He has done well in the limited opportunities that he has got,” said Arun.