Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is India’s joint highest T20I wicket-taker with 52 wickets and has certainly been consistent in the shorter format for Virat Kohli’s team.
However, his performances have seemingly dipped over the past one year and it does raise the question whether Chahal does enough to keep Kuldeep Yadav out of the playing XI.
During the second T20I on Sunday against the West Indies, Chahal struggled to bowl to the well-set big hitters. Lendl Simmons, Elvin Lewis and Nicholas Pooran got stuck in as the 29-year-old finished wicket-less, conceding 36 runs in a three-over spell.
In his last 15 games, Chahal has picked up 17 wickets at an economy rate of 8.35.
That isn’t a great record considering India have Kuldeep Yadav, a left-arm chinaman bowler sitting out, after picking up 23 wickets in his last ten games at an economy of 6.02. The 24-year-old strangely hasn’t played a T20I game since February 2019.
Kuldeep is also the bigger turner of the ball between the two Indian spinners and gives the ball a little more air than Chahar does.
Compare Chahal’s numbers with another leggie who has come leaps and bounds in the shorter format – Adam Zampa. In his previous 15 matches, the Australian has picked up 12 wickets but has a terrific economy of 6.32.
Zampa, like Chahal, does not have a big-spinning leg-spinner but has a great googly in his arsenal. His miserly economy comes from his stump to stump line that cramps the batsman up for room.
India have lost six of their last ten games when defending a total. Apart from fielding, India ought to concentrate on taking control of the middle overs and concede fewer runs between overs 10 and 15. T20 is a format where a few quiet overs can lead to wickets without anything special from the bowlers and so a bowler boasting of such an economy rate is valuable.
Ravindra Jadeja’s batting prowess and Washington Sundar’s miserly new-ball spells mean that Kuldeep Yadav could only come into the side in place of Chahal, as a like-for-like replacement. In the shorter format, India may also be reluctant to compromise on batting depth and play both the spinners.
While there is no doubt that Chahal is an extremely capable bowler, India shouldn’t let Kuldeep Yadav rot in the reserves with chances few and far between, across formats.
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