Yuzvendra Chahal, given licence to attack, kills off South Africa batting with five-for in Centurion

Hindustan Times, Centurion | By
Feb 05, 2018 10:07 AM IST

Yuzvendra Chahal, India leg-spinner, captured the first five-wicket haul by the country’s bowler in an ODI in South Africa in the second game in Centurion.

While no India bowler had taken a five-wicket haul in ODIs against South Africa in their backyard before, an India spinner taking five wickets is even more unexpected. (IND vs SA 2nd ODI UPDATES)

Yuzvendra Chahal celebrates the wicket of Chris Morris during the second ODI match between South Africa and India in Centurion.(BCCI)
Yuzvendra Chahal celebrates the wicket of Chris Morris during the second ODI match between South Africa and India in Centurion.(BCCI)

Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, in just his 19th ODI, produced the best bowling spell by an Indian in One-day Internationals against South Africa at their home on Sunday, taking 5/22 on a on a Centurion Park pitch known to help pace bowlers. (IND vs SA 2nd ODI SCORES)

South Africa, down 0-1 in the six-match series, were dismissed for 118 after being asked to bat first by skipper Virat Kohli.

Ahead of the tour of South Africa, the leggie had appeared confident in a chat with Hindustan Times, saying he has been working on his length, bowling a few inches shorter than what he bowls at home.

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The preparation seems to be paying off as he has been able to confuse the South Africa batsmen, who have mostly tried to attack him and got out.

He has been picking key wickets, breaking partnerships, and his wickets have led to batting collapses.

In-form spinner

Chahal came into this series on the back of two four-wicket hauls against Sri Lanka and took 2/45 in the first game at 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.

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

Helped by Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav’s double at the other end in the next over, Chahal tied down the Proteas batsmen before taking four more wickets. They included two set batsmen – Khaya Zondo and JP Duminy – as they were resurrecting the innings.

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Freedom to attack

It has helped that skipper Kohli has given him and Kuldeep freedom, asking them to attack and not worry about leaking runs. It is a departure from the usual brand of restrictive bowling that has prevailed in limited-overs cricket for India.

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

Since getting an opportunity, Chahal has shown guile and alertness to pick wickets, especially getting rid of Australia’s Glenn Maxwell multiple times in a series late last year. Narendra Hirwani, specialist spin bowling coach at National Cricket Academy, where Chahal trained ahead of the series, says he is a smart bowler, and although not as skilful as Kuldeep, has the ability to outthink batsmen.

He showed that on Sunday, although he didn’t have to use much intelligence as the Proteas did themselves in by playing atrocious shots.

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