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How bowling in IPL for RCB helped Yuzvendra Chahal in South Africa

Yuzvendra Chahal’s ability to not lose focus from his strength, which is bowling slow and giving flight to tempt batsmen (something he has honed bowling for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Indian Premier League (IPL), made the difference for Indian cricket team in the second ODI vs South Africa cricket team.

cricket Updated: Feb 04, 2018 22:01 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Centurion
South Africa vs India,SA vs IND,Yuzvendra Chahal
Yuzvendra Chahal (right) celebrates with Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli after dismissing South Africa cricket team's JP Duminy during the second ODI at Centurion Park in Pretoria on Sunday. (AP)

Over the past 25 years that India have toured South Africa, no bowler has been able to take a five-wicket haul against the hosts in One-day Internationals, let alone a spinner who is wet behind the ears in international cricket. (IND v SA 2nd ODI HIGHLIGHTS)

That changed on Sunday as Yuzvendra Chahal, in just his 19th ODI, picked five for 22 on a wicket that supported spin just a wee bit, and had decent pace and was good for batting.(IND v SA 2nd ODI SCORECARD)

Chahal’s ability to not lose focus from his strength, which is bowling slow and giving flight to tempt batsmen, made the difference. It takes courage for a bowler to keep doing that and both Chahal and his spin bowling partner, Kuldeep Yadav, have displayed that in plenty.

Chahal admitted that bowling at the small Chinnaswamy Stadium, the home of Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL), has helped him to get a hang of how to bowl in limited-overs cricket.

“Since I play in Bangalore, which is a small ground and is flat like these grounds, I have to play to my strength and not think about what the batsman is going to do. If I think about the batsman, then obviously I’ll struggle. My strength is to go for wickets by giving flight and bowl slow. I don’t bowl fast as on these kind of wickets you can go for runs by bowling quicker, especially against the big-hitters in the opposition camp,” said Chahal after the match.

“We (him and Kuldeep) are in the team to take wickets in the middle overs. We don’t mind going for 60-65 runs in 10 overs so long as we get the wickets. Because if you take wickets, only then will the opposition come under pressure.”

Chahal reiterated what fellow spinner Kuldeep Yadav had said after the first game about the freedom given by skipper Virat Kohli to go for wickets and not think about runs. That has given him the license to attack.

The 27-year-old had come into this series on the back of two four-wicket hauls against Sri Lanka and took two for 45 in the first game in Durban, plucking out Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram to dent South African hopes of getting close to 300. Till he got those wickets, the Proteas had looked solid.

On Sunday, he again got rid of De Kock, who averages above 70 against India and on whom the home batting hinged. The ball that got him was at a teasing length and prompted De Kock to go for the pull. Instead, he holed out to deep midwicket.

Helped by Kuldeep Yadav’s double at the other end in the next over, the leg-spinner tied down the Proteas before taking four more wickets, including two of the set batsmen – Khaya Zondo and JP Duminy, who were resurrecting the innings.

Chahal, who toured Zimbabwe a year and a half back, became a regular member of the Indian side after they were thrashed by Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final. The spinners then -- R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja -- had been mauled not just by Pakistan, but also by Sri Lanka (in the league phase).

Since becoming a regular member, Chahal has shown the guile and alertness to pick wickets, especially getting rid of Australia’s Glenn Maxwell multiple times in a series late last year.

First Published: Feb 04, 2018 20:13 IST