Yuzvendra Chahal has had a wonderful year and a half in cricket. From becoming the strike bowler for Royal Challengers Bangalore to earning rich stripes for India in both ODI and T20I cricket. Now the 27 year old legspinner from Jind, Haryana is gearing up his toughest challenge yet, the South Africa tour.
Cricbuzz.com caught up with Chahal before he embarks on the South African sojourn and he spoke about his journey so far for India and in IPL and about his future with Team India.
When asked to talk about the limited overs series against South Africa, Chahal said, “It will be a big test for me because it is my first major overseas series. I've been to South Africa before for the India 'A' tour, but that won't help me much because those matches were played at club grounds. When you go overseas, especially to countries like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, the wickets don't turn much. South Africa is known for bouncy wickets. In such conditions, it is important to vary pace. I'll reach there later this week and start preparing depending on the wickets.”
Chahal also talked about bowling to his RCB teammate AB de Villiers, “He is a gem of a person. Irrespective of where he is, AB always takes time out for me to appreciate a good performance. Even after the Sri Lanka T20 series, he messaged me. That said, on the field it will be a different ball game. I told him the other day that after bowling to him in the nets for years, I'm looking forward to the challenge of bowling to him in a match. I don't worry too much about the batsman I'm bowling to. My focus remains on how I bowl to that batsman and the same holds good for AB.”
Talking about his confidence, Chahal said, “The confidence level is high. The team management has been amazing. Axar (Patel), Kuldeep (Yadav) and I haven't been made to feel like newcomers at all. The turning point for me was the series against England in 2016. Although I made my debut against Zimbabwe in an away series, nobody really noticed my performance. During the England series, I didn't expect a place in the XI for the first match in Kanpur because a senior like Mishi bhai (Amit Mishra) was in the line-up. But Virat (Kohli) bhai gave me an opportunity... that trust has been a confidence-booster.”
He said comparing him and Kuldeep with Ashwin and Jadeja is not fair.
Chahal explained, “There is no competition between the spinners in the team. It is unfair to compare Kuldeep or me to Ashwin or (Ravindra) Jadeja. We are just a few series old, while they have been around for so many years. Don't judge me now, give me 3-4 years to get the experience and prove myself. Even then judge me, don't compare me. There is only one Yuzi and that forever will be my identity.”
On being a leg-spinner, Chahal said, “For me, the batsman doesn't matter because I just bowl to my strengths and the team tactics. I know I go for runs, but my aim is to get wickets. I'm a five-footer and can't bowl flatter. Hence, I have the ability to flight the ball and I play to my strengths.”
“Chess has helped me a lot with patience. It has calmed me down. It has made me understand that I'm human and I can't perform well every day. It has also taught me that the key to bowling well is to read the batsman. Sometimes when I get a feeling that a batsman is going to hit me, I bowl wider. I've also learnt to play with the belief that the batsman has just one ball which will determine their stay at the crease. On the other hand, I get six balls in an over to get him out,” Chahal said when asked how Chess has helped him in cricket.
Talking about his Test ambitions, Chahal said, “I definitely want to play Test cricket. Last year I performed well in Ranji Trophy. I've got used to bowling in different conditions with the red ball. Test cap is a dream which I hope to realize soon.”
Talking about the 2019 World Cup, he said, “Why think about it now? It is my dream to play and win a World Cup for India, but I don't make long-term plans. Right now I'm focused on the South Africa series.”