World Cup: Round the wicket with Yuzvendra Chahal

India leggie Yuzvendra Chahal backed his game in the rough patch, which allowed him to make a strong ODI comeback in Melbourne in January after two-and-a-half months.

Chahal: "There are a few things that are different, but I never had a problem in the T20I to ODI switch."   -  afp

The World Chess Federation website still carries ID no. 5022215 Yuzvendra, S. Chahal in its profile pages. Before picking up the cricket ball, the India leg-spinner cut his teeth in chess. And the World Cup vibe is not new to him either. Chahal had represented India in World Youth Chess in Greece in 2003.

As the 28-year-old sets his foot in the UK for his maiden cricket World Cup, the patience earned from chess will hold him in good stead. It has been proven. Only one ODI in the Australia tour — after being out of action for close to three months — fetched him six wickets. When the going got tough for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2019, the wrist-spinner got going; claiming 18 wickets in 14 games.

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Ahead of Team India’s departure, Sportstar caught up with Chahal to discuss IPL, World Cup and Kuldeep Yadav.


RCB did have quite a lot of good games towards the back end of the IPL. What are the new things you learnt?

We did not have a good start but we made a good comeback. I think we played well. It was a good experience to learn how to motivate yourself when you are 6-0 down in the tournament. It is important to know how to get out from that kind of a situation.

You are going to play your first World Cup. IPL is definitely good preparation. What are the things to be kept in mind when moving to ODIs from T20s?

Cricket remains the same, just the jersey changes. It’s the Team India shirt now. There are a few things that are different, but I never had a problem in the T20I to ODI switch.

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There was a time when you had a bit of lull. The wickets weren’t coming easy and you were not getting picked in the XI. How did you fight that period?

I keep backing myself come what may. Every cricketer goes through a phase, there are two or three games where you don’t perform well. I was backing myself that time and remembered the good matches that I had had in my career.

Chahal: "Kuldeep did not fare that poorly. He bowled well, just that he did not get wickets [only four wickets in nine games]."   -  AFP


Even Kuldeep Yadav did not get enough games in the IPL...

He is also human. You may not perform well in a few games. It takes time to get things rolling. He did not fare that poorly. He bowled well, just that he did not get wickets [only four wickets in nine games]. It has been close to two weeks that IPL is over, it should not matter now as we are focusing on the World Cup.

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Australia had a good series in India to start their Cup preparations. How do you see this Australian side in the World Cup?

They are a stronger side after David Warner and Steve Smith. They are a competitive side.

How do you assess the English conditions as a spinner?

Last year, it was dry. But it has been one year. Being there two weeks before the first match will hopefully give us an idea about the weather and the wickets.

Your World Cup journey also marks the launch of your new lifestyle brand, CheQmate...

HTS [the other partner in the collaboration] is my friend’s company. We had planned this long back. We wanted to do something for the fans. You can buy merchandise, see my interviews, catch me live and follow my journey.

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