India’s leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who has impressed one and all with his stellar bowling performances in the ongoing ODI series against South Africa, thanked the former and current skippers - MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli for instilling confidence and showing faith in him. Chahal recorded his career-best figures (5 for 22) in the second ODI against South Africa as India thrashed the hosts by 9 wickets in Centurion on Sunday (February 4).
"Virat bhai tells us it doesn't matter if we are hit for a six, but we must bowl to our strength. If your strength is to pitch it up, then go for it. When your captain tells you that, you don't have to worry even if you have been hit for two or three sixes, you get confidence," Chahal quoted according to PTI after the second ODI.
"From behind the stumps, Mahi bhai (MS Dhoni) always keeps advising you. He knows what the batsman is going to try. It makes it easier for us," he added.
The Haryana born leggie further stated that skipper and team management always back him to go for wickets in the middle overs even if it comes at the expense of some runs.
"I go for wickets and I flight the ball. I know it can go for six too, but when your captain and your team management back you, it gives you the confidence to do it. I have played in Bangalore for RCB on flatter wickets than this, so you have to play to your strengths here," said Chahal.
The wrist spinner got rid of Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Khaya Zondo, Chris Morris and Morne Morkel in the Centurion ODI. However, experienced batsman JP Duminy’s wicket gave Chahal the most pleasure.
"I think Duminy's wicket was the best (of all five), because he is a left-hander. I have played with him in the IPL and he can change his game towards the end overs. So it was our plan to bowl slower to him and it worked.
"Whilst playing on flat tracks, you have to vary your pace. You cannot bowl at one pace. Or the batsmen will get used to it. We are bowling the way we bowl in India. We are just bowling to our strengths and we are reading the pitches very well," he explained.
Talking about the challenges of making adjustments in overseas conditions, the 27-year-old said, "Playing on these grounds and wickets, you have to bowl a little slower. The grounds are small and they have big hitters. As spinners, you cannot bowl faster, otherwise they will play you as medium pacers. There are times when we have to bowl fast but that depends on the situation.
"There is also bounce available on these pitches. If you bowl fast, the ball won't turn and it will come on to the bat. That's why Kuldeep and I vary our pace because you won't get the turn you get in India. The ball won't turn from under the bat.
"So you have to keep the ball away from the bat so that it gets time to turn. Also you can then use the bounce on these pitches. Batsmen who don't use their feet, you have to keep the ball a little bit away from them. Kuldeep and I discussed to bowl either right up or back of a length," he elaborated.
Chahal and Kuldeep shared 8 wickets between them as the Proteas got bundled out for 118 runs in Centurion, their lowest ODI score on home soil. The duo came on to bowl after the first 10 overs and triggered South Africa's collapse after they were placed at 51/1 at one stage.
When asked about the tactics and how it feels to bowl in tandem with Kuldeep, Chahal said: "Whenever Kuldeep or I come on to bowl, we only think about taking wickets. We are in the team to take wickets in middle overs.
"We don't mind giving away 65-70 runs in 10 overs but if we can take 2-3 wickets that's more helpful from our point of view. If we take wickets in middle overs then you will see the opposition is under pressure," concluded Yuzvendra Chahal.
(With PTI inputs)