Mystery Chahal: In the shadows of current Purple Cap holder

As another T20 World Cup is on the horizon, this time in Australia, where big grounds will be an added luxury for spinners, especially Chahal.

In a T20 World Cup where nothing went India’s way, six months on, it is still hard to fathom how Yuzvendra Chahal didn’t even make the squad. In a tournament where selectors and the team management believed the conditions would only get slower as it progressed, he was overlooked for Rahul Chahar, a leg-spinner who is quick in the air. This despite having Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Varun Chakravarthy in the ranks, who could all get the ball to grip and turn quicker, on slow conditions.

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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 come as a surprise if Chahal is the first name on the team sheet. In an IPL where the pacers have dominated the wicket-takers list, it is Chahal who is in possession of the Purple Cap with 18 wickets. In each of the four venues, spinners have found it challenging to defend totals because of the dew factor but Rajasthan Royals have won all their five matches after being asked to bat first. In each of these matches, Chahal has played his role to perfection.

While teams have preferred not to use spinners towards the latter half of the second innings because of the dew factor, Sanju Samson hasn’t hesitated to throw the ball to Chahal. In the five matches they have won, Chahal has bowled 17th over twice, 16th over thrice and 18th over once. And barring their opening fixture against Sunrisers Hyderabad, when Chahal came on to bowl these overs, the fate of the match has been in the balance. For a team that doesn’t have dependable bowlers at the death, that they have chosen to rely on Chahal at the end also shows how the leg-spinners’s lack of pace has proven to be the biggest undoing for the batters.

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Be it to put breaks on the opposition by checking the flow of runs or by picking up key wickets at crucial junctures, Chahal has done it all. “Based on situations, if there is no dew, spinners can bowl in the latter stages of the game, and if there is, we will try and finish off soon. It’s something I have done for years now, whether it’s the 17th, 18th or the 20th, I have bowled them in the past. I am always mentally prepared to bowl any over between 1-and 20,” Chahal said on Monday.

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From a spinner who was an India regular for two years to missing out on a World Cup berth to finding a second wind, Chahal seems to have turned the corner. There is renewed confidence and clarity, he has looked like a spinner in control of the situation irrespective of the situation he is in. In an IPL where the pacers have dominated the wicket-takers list, it is Chahal who is in possession of the Purple Cap with 18 wickets. In each of the four venues, spinners have found it challenging to defend totals because of the dew factor but Rajasthan Royals have won all their five matches after being asked to bat first.

In each of these matches, Chahal has played his role to perfection. “Whatever the conditions or batter I’m up against, if I feel like bowling a particular delivery I will always back myself to do it without thinking or having any second thoughts. Because you might end up getting confused. If I feel like bowling a particular delivery, I will do it,” Chahal said.