Grandmaster Yuzvendra Chahal back in the race for the T20 World Cup

Chahal was the pick of RR bowlers against MI. (Source:

On a pitch that offered plenty of assistance for the fast bowlers, where pacers from both teams dominated proceedings by taking a combined total of 10 wickets, you wouldn’t have wanted to bowl if you were a spinner, especially considering the short boundaries at the Wankhede Stadium. That’s where Yuzvendra Chahal stood out. He was the only spinner from both teams to take wickets. Such has been the impact of Chahal with the white ball in T20 cricket. Even if it’s a graveyard for spinners, he will find a way to create magic moments for his team.

When Chahal was introduced into the attack by Sanju Samson, Mumbai Indians (MI) had already lost four wickets. But there was a partnership that had started to give some headaches to the Rajasthan Royals (RR) skipper, especially after the way Hardik Pandya and Tilak Varma attacked the last two overs of the powerplay. Then came the strategic timeout. After the break, Chahal had the ball in hand. The seasoned campaigner showed that it’s not just about the pacers, as he turned one ball away, which proved there was spin and bounce in the pitch. Pandya was baffled to see such turn. As a leg-spinner, Chahal thrives on pitches that offer just a hint of turn and bounce. The Wankhede wicket provided the perfect canvas for his artistry.

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Pandya’s wicket came at a crucial point in the game, as he and Varma had formed a partnership of 56 and started to look dangerous. Much like how he dismissed Pandya, Chahal floated one outside the off stump, inviting the big shot, and in an attempt to do that, Varma found himself in trouble. Tossing the ball outside off and taking wickets was something Chahal was quite successful at doing at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium when he was with Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB). His mantra has been simple and it has worked for him, which is why he’s the most successful bowler in the IPL and for India in T20Is.

Chahal’s success stems from his astute reading of the game situation. Unlike traditional leg-spinners, he doesn’t rely heavily on extravagant turn, but focusses on precision. His unique arm action, often at a perpendicular angle at release, contributes to his accuracy, making him a formidable force. He has a googly which has served him quite well. However, what truly sets him apart is his unflappable temperament, exemplified by his stellar performances in the demanding T20 format.

Chahal celebrating Tilak Varma’s wicket.(Source: IPL/X)

The wily leg-spinner has taken six wickets so far in the tournament. He’s mindful of the fact that a virtual T20 World Cup audition is going on, and the selectors are keeping an eye on everyone. Chahal has started the tournament well. The selection panel is likely to pick the squad for the World Cup in the last week of April. The 33-year-old Chahal has to keep on delivering if he wants to regain his place in the T20I squad.

In the past, on numerous occasions for India, Chahal has proven that he’s a match-winner with the ball in hand. The most successful bowler for India in T20Is is yet to play a single T20 World Cup game. Now, that’s ironic. While he wasn’t picked in the 2021 World Cup squad, he got a place for the 2022 T 20 World Cup, played in Australia. Out of India’s squad of 15 members, 13 played in at least one match. Chahal and Harshal Patel were the sole individuals who did not feature in any contest. Varun Chakaravarthy, Rahul Chahar and Arshdeep Singh all made their debuts after Chahal, but each has played at least one game in the T20 World Cup, a stage where Chahal is yet to feature.

What’s gone is gone. Chahal can only look ahead. The pitches in the Caribbean will suit his style of bowling. Even if they don’t, he will find a way to weave his spin web.

Now the question remains – will Chahal be picked? That depends largely on how he bowls in the remaining games. Every wicket taken, every economical spell bowled, serves as a reminder to the selectors of his capabilities and readiness for international cricket.

While his exclusion from the national team may have seemed like a setback, it could merely be a chapter in a story of redemption waiting to be penned.

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