The inaugural champions of the T20 WC announced their team for the 7th edition and will be looking to repeat the results they achieved 14 years back. Due to the pandemic, the tournament is going to take place in UAE, and spinners will play a crucial role for each team. Yuzvendra Chahal has been the primary spin bowler in the Indian team for the last three years. The last 10-12 months have seen a dip in his performance. In this stats analysis, we look at whether India have taken a huge gamble by not picking Chahal for the tournament. India’s spin attack in the tournament will have a good variety to it. India has two left-arm orthodox bowlers, one leg spinner, one mystery bowler in Varun, and one classical off-spinner in the experienced R.Ashwin.
2020 IPL EDITION IN UAE
The 2020 edition of IPL was also held in UAE, and looking at the stats of the spin options India has picked up for the tournament, no one has a better strike rate than Chahal, and only A.Patel and Varun. C have a better economy than him. Chahal has also picked up the most wicket amongst them. He was also the lone warrior in the bowling department for RCB. 21 wickets by him, was RCB’s highest followed by Morris and Siraj both at 11 each. The likes of Rahul Chahar, a bowler of the same variety, picked up 15 wickets in that edition but had the advantage of having J. Bumrah and T Boult, who picked up 25+ wickets each. Chahal has been able to carry the entire bowling department on his shoulder and would have worked well with his Indian teammates.
The spin duo of Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav often referred to as KulCha, were an integral part of the Indian bowling lineup in 2018. They both use to control the middle stage of the innings in the white-ball format and pick up the crucial wickets. India’s lack of option with fast bowling all-rounders, injury and fitness concerns of Hardik Pandya meant India had to play three seamers along with a spinner who could provide the batting depth. India has done it so far with the likes of R.Jadeja, W.Sundar, & K.Pandya. This scenario and keeping the team balance meant that Chahal and Kuldeep playing together was not an option available. Chahal is still picking up wickets but the impact and the pressure they both created together has gone missing. They have not played a T20I together in the last two years.
MS Dhoni’s role in the development of Chahal and the other spinners is known to everyone in the cricketing world. His little advice and game plans could easily be heard through the stump mic. More often than not, his advice use to work and fans loved to see a game plan being implemented and showing results. It’s a notion that without Dhoni the effectiveness of Chahal and Kuldeep has dropped. Though Kuldeep has struggled in the last two years both for India and in the IPL, the stats for Chahal tell a different picture. His strike rate might have increased but there is a drop in the economy. Chahal might not get the minor details from the other Indian wicketkeepers but is still performing well.
The Chairman of Selectors for BCCI said that “ “We have picked Rahul Chahar over Yuzi as we wanted someone who bowls fast and gets pace off the pitch. He also gets the ball to grip through the surface.” Chahal’s bowling style is different from what was wanted by the selectors. He has an identity of flighting the ball, being courageous even after going for a boundary. This is like a double-edged sword, it can get you a wicket if you are successful in fooling the batsman into a particular shot but some other batsman might take advantage of the same and he could end up leaking runs. Stats show that Chahal can bowl both in the powerplay and in the middle order, where he can bowl dot balls and increase the pressure on the opposition batsman.
India’s decision to go in a tournament without their lead spinners can be called a little gamble. Yes, they have experience in Jadeja and Ashwin, but Jadeja is not your regular wicket-taker, and would mostly play as an all-rounder and Ashwin has not played a T20I since 2017. India will be looking to count on his experience of the previous editions and would wish that they don’t end up in a scenario where they start missing the services of Chahal.