A red-ball erudition for ‘Chahal sir’

A regular in the senior side with the white ball, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is in the A squad to learn the nuances of red-ball cricket and shape his future as a complete package.

Yuzvendra Chahal admits he has to play more of red-ball cricket to be in the reckoning for the Test squad.   -  PTI

Chahal sir, ek photo milega, photo?Mera bhi ek question hai, sir (Can I click a photo with you? Even I have a question for you).”

Prithvi Shaw, the youngest in the India A squad, mischievously walked into the open press box as Yuzvendra Chahal addressed three journalists at the Platinum Oval here on Sunday.

It was early stumps, on Day 3, in the rain-hit second Test against South Africa A. Naturally, the players were relieved to return to their hotel rooms and as they dragged their luggage towards the bus, parked right behind, there were chorus voices chanting ‘Chahal sir, Chahal sir!’

Aap ja sakte hain (you can go now),” was Chahal’s response.

The 28-year-old leg-spinner, returning to the first-class fold after a two-year gap, is a loved senior [by default]. No other player from the A side has played more international cricket in recent times, or rubbed shoulders with Virat Kohli and M. S. Dhoni on a daily basis.

‘No pressure’

Chahal returned from England to join the A side to sharpen his red-ball skills. Being a white-ball spinner for India in 52 games, he explained the difference in approach. “There is no pressure on the batsmen here. In limited-overs, if there is a run-rate pressure, the batters try you out, but here, a bowler would need to use his skills to get the batsmen out, use the brains a bit more. You may have to bowl 30 to 35 overs also, as against four overs or 10 overs,” he said.

Yuzvendra Chahal speaks to the media after the third day's play in Bengaluru. Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

 

A cramped international calendar didn’t let Chahal roll an arm in domestic cricket after the Haryana-Jharkhand Ranji Trophy quarterfinal in 2016.  Last year, when he was undergoing training at the National Cricket Academy after the series against New Zealand, Team India asked its limited-overs specialists to skip the Ranji games. Though Chahal wanted to play for Haryana, the board didn't want to risk injuries. This year, he joined the A side to compensate.

“If you are playing Test matches, your bowling will improve and your mind will be sharp. You need to adjust and think how you can get a batsman out, especially on a wicket like this, where there is no help for the spinners. There is no turn at all. You need more planning in such situations. You need to have an idea about the field set-up,” said Chahal, who picked up a couple of wickets on Day Two.

REPORT: Rain rules the roost on Day Three, Rajput strikes twice

He revealed there was no turn around the stump line.

“The turn was around the fourth or the fifth stump, and there was no assistance from the middle. Our idea was to pack the off-side and make the South Africans drive the ball. I planned it with Iyer (Shreyas). Even if there was a good shot, it would only be a single,” he added.

Chahal, however, is not in a hurry to break into the Test squad. He respects the protocol. “I have to play a little bit more of red-ball cricket; that’s why the selectors sent me here. Two years is a long gap and here, you need to keep yourself fit as there are 20-over spells, too. Bowling a good delivery and getting a wicket on a good delivery are two different things, you need the latter,” he said.

As he finished the interaction, Shaw ran for cover.

                                                     India in England
  • "The limited-overs series was a good experience as it was my first tour. I learnt a lot of things. If I go to England again, the conditions and the wickets will play in my mind and I will be able to prepare better."
  • "There is still hope for India in the Test series. James Anderson has over 500 wickets, so his Lord’s spell was obvious in swinging conditions. It is tough but it is not that India can’t turn it around. There will be three more Tests, there are chances of a comeback."