Yuzvendra Chahal responds to Virat Kohli’s search for wrist spinners
Yuzvendra Chahal, a wrist spinner, has given Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team a great variety in bowling options, looking forward at the ICC 2019 World CupUpdated: Aug 24, 2017 22:21 IST
India skipper Virat Kohli is clear that wrist spinners are the way to go as the team builds up towards the 2019 World Cup, even if one is a touch absent-minded. (READ | India vs Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI - Highlights)
After bowling his first over, diminutive leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal stood in front of the umpire, hand extended, to collect his cap. Quickly realising he wasn’t wearing one in the first place, Chahal beat a retreat to his fielding spot.
But the spinner has been pretty alert with his craft. He bowled with confidence, varying pace, length, amount of spin and flight to keep Sri Lanka’s tentative batsmen guessing after being brought into the attack at the end of the first 10-over powerplay phase.
And he dented the Sri Lankan innings, claiming the wickets of opener Dhanushka Gunathilaka and aggressive No 3 Kusal Mendis to return 2/43, having made a similar impact with two wickets in the first ODI in Dambulla.
There is nothing surprising about Virat Kohli’s faith in Chahal, who had played just three ODIs before this series, on the 2016 tour of Zimbabwe where he took six wickets. He had to wait till getting another chance in this series, but Kohli is familiar with Chahal’s ability, as he also leads him in IPL side Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Chahal, 27, made his first-class debut way back in 2009, but has played only 70 games in seven years. The presence of leg-spinner Amit Mishra in the Haryana team could have played a role. However, it’s a big step for Chahal to replace Mishra in the Indian team.
The series against Sri Lanka is his first against a major side. And though Sri Lanka are struggling, there was no sign of nerves in Chahal after being picked to play in Dambulla, where he broke a promising opening stand by removing opener Gunathilaka there too.
He took two for 60, going for runs in his later spell there. He was also miserly in Pallekele till Milinda Siriwardena and Chamara Kapugedera looked for some quick runs later in the innings.
India have not chosen finger spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for this series. Ashwin, though the chief wicket-taker in Tests, has played ODIs sporadically and has hardly been a force of late.
With England, the 2019 World Cup venue, not known as a place where finger spinners do well, it is no surprise Kohli is backing wrist spinners.
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, the other wrist spinner in the team, is waiting for a chance. Kuldeep impressed in the West Indies and took five wickets at Pallekele in the third Test win to complete a series sweep.
Towards the end, Chahal on the midwicket boundary dropped Chamara Kapugedera off Bhuvneshwar Kumar. But he still put in a dive to stop the boundary, showing the newcomer was buying into the team’s fitness mantra too.
First Published: Aug 24, 2017 19:31 IST