‘Chahal and Yadav are quite versatile’ says Rohit Sharma

“The best part is that they compliment each other. They share their tactics. We know that the grounds aren’t so big here. But they understand the game,” said the India opening batsman, on the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.

Indian spinners Kuldeep Yadav, left and Yuzvendra Chahal, have together captured 35 wickets since their ODI debuts.   -  AP

The shift in spin-thrust, from finger to wrist, post the ICC-Champions Trophy in England last June, has surprised aficionados and experts alike. But clearly, reasons could be spotted in the numbers thrown up by the frontline finger spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja during their outings in the English summer.

Ashwin played three matches in India’s failed campaign in the Champions Trophy, and picked up one wicket that cost him 167 runs, while Jadeja, played five matches, and picked up four wickets at 62.25. The Tamil Nadu cricketer went to the West Indies, played three matches and picked four wickets at 18.85, whereas the Saurashtra all-rounder went wicketless in the two ODIs he played in the same series.

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One can only surmise that captain Virat Kohli, coach Ravi Shastri and the selection committee looked at one direction of exploring the wrist-spin option and eventually bringing in right-arm leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav to the fore.

Some years ago, the chairman of the junior national selection committee, Abey Kuruvilla, predicted a bright future for the Uttar Pradesh chinaman, and the youngster when given a chance in the Dharamsala Test against Australia in March this year, proved he’s worthy of being pushed into international cricket and eventually across all formats. Recently, former India batsman Suresh Raina, gave all credit to former India coach Anil Kumble for the rise of Yadav.

In the absence of unambiguous answers from either the team management or the selection committee, the discerning believe that there is nothing wrong in trying out the unorthodox variety in the limited over series’ against Australia and New Zealand at home. It must be noted that Kohli and the people in the vanguard of causing the change know full well the skill-levels and capabilities of Ashwin and Jadeja, who have 150 and 155 ODI wickets to their name, respectively.

Chahal, who made his debut against Zimbabwe in Harare last year and Yadav, against the West Indies in Port of Spain this year, have together captured 35 wickets, but more importantly impressed many by their ability to baffle the Australian batsmen.

How far have these two tweakers taken their game to the next level? Touching upon this aspect, Rohit Sharma said, “They have definitely grown from the time they made their way into the team and till now. I think there’s been immense improvement in their confidence. They just go out there, do their thing and are not afraid to make tactical changes. They flight the ball and go for a wicket, which is important in this format, especially because they bowl in the middle overs.”

Sharma, further explained, “It’s important they have the confidence. For us as a team, we really rely on those two guys to do the job in the middle overs. And they’ve done exceedingly well in the last series; we saw that. It was pretty evident that whenever the ball was given to them, they came up with tactical plans and got rid of set batsman. To get crucial breakthroughs in the middle overs is very important.

“They’ve done that and from hereon, they’ll keep growing as an individual and as a player also. The best part is that they compliment each other. They share their tactics. We know that the grounds aren’t so big here. But they understand the game. So, in their bowling they’re quite versatile. That’s something that I’ve noticed.”

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