Former Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria believes India have erred by not taking a wrist-spinner to England, and felt that the visitors should have named Rahul Chahar in the tour of England. Kaneria opined that it’s ‘concerning’ that India don’t have a leg-spinner that can create an impact.
At just 21 years of age, Rahul Chahar has been making great strides at the top level of cricket. The young leggie is a regular for the best franchise in the IPL, Mumbai Indians, and only two months ago took over the mantle from Yuzvendra Chahal as the country’s #1 T20I spinner, after replacing the latter in the second half of the England T20Is. He was, in fact, only three months ago named in the Indian Test squad as a standby, and the general consensus is that the youngster will inevitably someday become a go-to all-format bowler for the country.
However, according to former Pakistan spinner Danish Kaneria, team India have erred by playing the waiting game. Kaneria opined that India should have fast-tracked Chahar in red-ball cricket and said that, with both Kuldeep and Chahal struggling, the Virat Kohli-led team should have picked Chahar in the squad for the WTC Final and England Tests, given that he’s a leg-spinner.
“Rahul Chahar, his height, the way he delivers the ball, he should have been in the team,” Hindustan Times quoted Kaneria as saying.
“New Zealand has Ish Sodhi, a tall leg spinner and Virat Kohli always struggles against a leg spinner as we saw it with (Adam) Zampa. So, I feel if there is a place open for a leg spinner than Chahar, who has played for Mumbai Indians and India and has performed well, has googly, flipper and leg-spin, could have been useful,” Kaneria said.
“(White ball specialist) Yuzvendra Chahal is a senior bowler but he is struggling with form, Kuldeep Yadav is lacking confidence so Chahar is one player, who can be groomed for Test cricket as well and he can be very useful.”
Chahar’s first-class record is nothing more than decent - 69 wickets @ average 28.62 - but, according to Kaneria, India should have picked the 21-year-old solely because he is a leg-spinner. In the 20-man squad, India named four-finger spinners - Ashwin, Jadeja, Axar and Sundar - and Kaneria felt that the visitors blundered by opting against picking a wrist-spinner.
“India has selected quite a strong team. Overall, their squad is good. But the thing to note is that they have not selected a wrist spinner. They have finger spinners – Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja – but they don’t have a wrist spinner - a right arm leg-spinner,” Kaneria said.
A veteran who has played domestic cricket in England representing Essex, Kaneria revealed that, in seaming conditions, finger-spinners can do no more than contain runs. The 40-year-old asserted that, ultimately, in pace-friendly conditions, it is wrist-spinners who will be able to make a difference.
“Where there are seam conditions, a leg spinner is very useful and that's why I had a successful tenure when I played county cricket. So, it is a little concerning that there is no leg spinner in the team. Finger spinners can contain but having a finger spinner and a wrist spinner can make an impact on the team.”