Having made his international debut back in June 2016, India’s leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has come a long way. He had a memorable tour of South Africa, taking 16 wickets in 6 ODIs as the Men in Blue clinched the one-day international series with a stunning margin of 5-1. Chahal followed it up with eight wickets in the recently concluded Nidahas T20 tri-series that India won by beating Bangladesh in a thrilling final.
Chahal is now gearing up to stamp his authority in the cash-rich Indian Premier League for Royal Challengers Bangalore. He was retained by the RCB franchise during the IPL auction for INR 6 crores.
Ahead of the 11th edition of IPL, Chahal, in an exclusive interview with Zeenews.com analyzed the team composition of RCB and their chances to clinch the coveted title this year.
“Compared to the last season, RCB is a much better side this time because we have a better pool of batsmen such as Quinton de Kock, Brendon McCullum, Sarfaraz Khan, Manan Vohra and Mandeep Singh etc. In the bowling department too, we have so many options like Nathan Coulter Nile, Tim Southee, Chris Woakes and Washington Sundar. So this time, we can say it is a stronger team beacuse it is perfectly balanced,” Chahal told Zeenews.com.
When asked to compare the current team with the 2016 RCB side that had lost the final to Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chahal said: “This is definitely the best side we have got as we have more bowling options with us. In the past, we have been winning because of our heavy batting. In the T20 format, it is the bowling which wins you games, so bowling needs to be strong. Now with 3-4 good bowlers joining in, the bowling has started to look much better. Chris Woakes, Umesh Yadav and Coulter-Nile have played before and are experienced.”
“With such a powerful mix, we aim to win the IPL this year. Last to last year, it was our outstanding batting that led us to the final but this time the bowling will also be as strong. On paper, our batting has names such as Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock but now our bowling is worthy to be rated equally,” he explained.
In IPL 2018, Chahal will be bowling in tandem with Washington Sundar. The duo bowled superbly in the middle overs during India’s triumphant campaign in the Nidahas Trophy.
“I would say he has the ability to create pressure with the new ball, which gives me the license to go for wickets right away. In the Tri-series, his 3 powerplay overs proved really crucial for us in every game and it really helped me bowl with a big heart. His biggest strength is that he keeps to his strength. He bowls accurately without thinking too much about variations or more spin. He finishes his job very well,” Chahal said.
The 27-year-old leggie also credited the legendary Kiwi spinner and RCB coach Daniel Vettori for his development in the last couple of years.
“He [Vettori] keeps providing me with important inputs regarding match situations and makes sure he doesn't flood me with suggestions. He takes it slow and cautions me if I am going wrong somewhere. For example, he will caution me if my bowling stride is getting too big and constantly pushes me to reduce it as it could affect my balance at the crease. The body can tend to fall over. So he is always careful about that,” Chahal revealed.
“Not just cricket, he helps me a lot off the field as well in my personal life, guides me and cares for me. Even after the IPL gets over, I am constantly in touch with him over the phone,” he elaborated.
Chahal has done exceedingly well under the captaincy of both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. When asked to compare the style of their leadership, the wrist spinner remained rather diplomatic about it.
“I would say both let me enjoy my bowling and motivate me to go for wickets. They give me the freedom to set my own fields. Both tell me that my job is to keep looking for wickets,” Chahal concluded.