Yuzvendra Chahal is currently the best spinner for India in T20Is and his place in the team is of utmost importance for the World Cup. So, resting the front-line of the spinner of the team for the West Indies series, which will be important in the build-up to the World Cup was an unnecessary move.
As the T20 World Cup is scheduled for October-November this year and so the teams are preparing for the showpiece event. They are trying different team combinations and tactics to come out with the best one in the tournament. India would like to forget their group stage exit in the T20 World Cup 2021 and better their performance in this edition. India recently won the T20I series against South Africa and England and showed their potential to excel against strong teams. Indian bowling attack is performing well in the shortest format in recent times and Yuzvendra Chahal has been playing a vital role with his wrist spin.
As much as pacers are important in the T20, spinners have equal value in the game. Especially leg-spinners are preferred by teams as they tend to take wickets with batters trying to attack spinners. Chahal is such a spinner in the Indian team and he often deceives batters with his flight and turns. Ever since the previous edition of the T20 World Cup, Chahal has been back to his wicket-taking ways.
Yuzvendra Chahal has taken 79 wickets from 62 T20Is at an economy rate of 8.09 which are very impressive numbers. 2022 has been a time of resurgence for Chahal as the spinner has 15 wickets from 11 T20I innings at an economy of 7.12. The other specialist spin options India can consider for T20 World Cup are Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, and Kuldeep Yadav. Ashwin was part of India’s T20 World Cup squad in 2021 but has been away from the shortest format since the game against New Zealand on 19 November last year. Ashwin has 61 T20I wickets but he has not played T20I since last time and also he managed to pick only 12 wickets from 17 innings.
Another factor that keeps Ashwin behind in the race against Chahal is his tendency to bowl quickly and attempt too many variations. Ashwin has sometimes tried being innovative with his bowling rather than focusing on orthodox off-spinners and that has hampered his wicket-taking ability. Ravi Bishnoi is another option in the fray and he has managed to take seven wickets from seven innings so far. Bishnoi is quick in the air and he focuses more on his googlies rather than his traditional deliveries.
Kuldeep Yadav has also been away from the T20Is for a long time. He played his last T20I in February against Sri Lanka. Also, his exclusion from the national team after that indicates that the team management is not considering him in the role of the specialist spinner playing in the World Cup squad. Compared to all these bowlers, the wicket-taking ability and being brave enough to deceive batters with his flight gives Chahal an edge. Leg-spinners are always a wicket-taking option in T20Is and Chahal is no exception to this norm.
Chahal was not included in the T20 World Cup last year and it was quite a shocking move for some former cricketers as well as fans. His T20I numbers were ordinary in 2019 and 2020 as he picked eight and seven wickets respectively in nine matches, As a result, he wasn’t included in the Indian team for the previous edition of the T20 World Cup. It appeared that his career in the T20Is is at risk of coming to a halt but he has re-established himself with his performance after the tournament. The leg-spinner played only five matches last year but his journey after the last year’s showpiece event has been outstanding.
He bowled well against New Zealand, West Indies, and Sri Lanka in the series after that. His performance in South Africa series last month was also brilliant as he scalped six wickets in five matches. Also in the recent England series, he picked four wickets from two matches. All these stats show that Chahal has been consistently taking wickets since last year and why he will play an important role in the World Cup.
Chahal’s performance in the IPL 2022 was also superb. He was giving flight to his deliveries and was dismissing batters with the turn. While playing for Rajasthan Royals, he scalped 27 wickets in 17 innings this edition and provided crucial breakthroughs for the team in the tournament. His sublime form in white ball cricket this year depicts that he should play all the series leading to World Cup being the first-choice specialist spinner in the team. However, the recent squad announcement for the West Indies series excludes Chahal from the squad.
Chahal will be surely a wicket-taking option in the middle overs for the Indian team in World Cup and will play a crucial role. Resting him for workload management in the West Indies series seems to be an unnecessary move considering the team’s dynamic and combination for the T20 World Cup. India will start their tournament campaign against Pakistan on October 23. Apart from Pakistan, India have South Africa and Bangladesh in their Super 12 Group. Two more teams will qualify from the qualifying round. India will look to clinch the trophy this time and they would want Chahal to deliver with his leg-spin in the middle overs.