Royal Chahal: In the shadows to current Purple Cap holder

express news service

CHENNAI: In a T20 World Cup where nothing has worked in India’s favor even after a lapse of six months, it is still difficult to understand why Yuzvendra Chahal didn’t even make it to the team. In a tournament where the selectors and team management believed that conditions would slow down as it progressed, they were ignored for leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, who is quick in the air. This despite being in the ranks of Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Varun Chakraborty who were all capable of catching the ball in slow conditions and turning the ball fast.

As another T20 World Cup is on the horizon, this time in Australia, where big grounds will be an added luxury for spinners, it won’t be a surprise if Chahal is the first name on the team sheet. In an IPL where fast bowlers dominate the wicket-takers list, it is Chahal who is in possession of the Purple Cap with 18 wickets. In each of the four venues, the spinners found it challenging to defend the totals due to dew, but Rajasthan Royals have won all their five matches after being asked to bat first. In all these matches, Chahal has played his role perfectly. Be it putting the brakes on the opposition by stopping the flow of runs or taking crucial wickets at crucial occasions, Chahal has it all.

While teams prefer not to use spinners in the latter half of the second innings due to dew, Sanju Samson hasn’t hesitated to bowl the ball to Chahal. In the five matches that Chahal has won, he has bowled the 17th over twice, the 16th over thrice and the 18th over once. And except for his opening match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, when Chahal came to bowl these overs, the fate of the match was in balance. For a team that doesn’t have dependable bowlers at death, which they have chosen to rely on in the end Chahal also shows that the leg-spinners’ lack of pace has proved to be the biggest undoing for the batsmen. “Depending on the circumstances, if there is no dew, the spinners can bowl in the later stages of the game, and if so, we will try and finish soon. It’s something I’ve done over the years, whether it’s 17th, 18th or 20th, I’ve bowled to him in the past. I am always mentally prepared to bowl any over between 1 to 20,” Chahal said on Monday.

From a spinner who was a regular in India for two years, from missing out on a World Cup berth to finding another wind, Chahal seems to have turned a corner. There is renewed confidence and clarity, he looks like the spinner controlling the situation no matter what the situation. “Whatever the position or batsman I am against, I will always come back if I feel like bowling a particular ball. I do it without thinking or giving any second thought. Because you might end up confused. If I feel like bowling to a particular ball, I will do it,” said Chahal.

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