Kumble: England tour a litmus test for Kuldeep, Chahal

The former India coach heaped praise on the spin duo and said the wrist spinners' effectiveness has prompted the team to consider them in the playing XI, not just as defensive bowlers but as wicket-taking options.

Royal Challengers Bangalore's Yuzvendra Chahal has just taken 11 wickets from 12 matches in the IPL so far and Anil Kumble reasons that the opposition has also played him very smartly as players understand that he's the wicket-taking bowler in the middle overs. Here, Chahal celebrates the wicket of Chennai Super Kings' Sam Billings.   -  PTI

Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, part of India's limited-overs squad set to tour England for three T20s and as many ODIs, are yet to get a taste of the English conditions and former India leg-spinner and coach Anil Kumble believes "getting used to the cooler weather and slowish wickets" will hold the key for the spinners. 

"The wickets will be slightly slower early on; it depends on the weather. The first half — when you go in early July — can get cold. You won't get much bounce hence you have to be a lot fuller, but these are things they will pick up as soon as they start practising there," Kumble told Sportstar on the sidelines of the Star Sports Select Dugout

Asked if the emergence of T20 cricket was the reason behind renewed interest in leg-spin, Kumble said, "I think in the shorter format, spinners have always played a very important role. When T20 first came in, everyone thought there's no place for a spinner because of the pace at which things happen. 

"We've seen that spinners, especially wrist spinners, have been very effective, prompting teams to consider them in the playing XI, not just as a defensive bowler but as a wicket-taking option."

Kuldeep Yadav's bowling performances across all formats.

 

The 47-year-old, also the third highest wicket-taker — 619 wickets from 132 matches — in the history of Test cricket, reckons the role of a skipper is crucial in getting the best out of the bowlers.  "If you are playing an attacking role, it's important that you are used in that fashion. Both Kuldeep and Chahal have been aggressive bowlers, looking to pick up wickets, irrespective of how many runs they go for," he said, before adding, "You also need to set the fields and the skipper needs to back them. They've done a good job so far, but it'll be important to see how they perform in English conditions."

Kolkata Knight Riders' Kuldeep Yadav has taken 13 wickets in 13 matches in the IPL, so far.   -  AFP

 

As much as India's batting — Virat Kohli (558) and Shikhar Dhawan (323) — contributed in its 5-1 drubbing of South Africa in the bilateral ODI series earlier this year, it was the wrist-spin of Kuldeep and Chahal that crippled all hopes of an opposition comeback.  The duo recorded combined match-wise figures of 33 for 498 in 103 overs from six games.

The Indian leggies arrived in the IPL on the back of good form, so their lack of wickets — Kuldeep (13 from 13) and Chahal (11 from 12) — this season has come as a surprise to some.  But Kumble remains unperturbed by the numbers. "You can't always pick up wickets and the opposition has also played them very smartly, especially Chahal because players understand that he's the wicket-taking bowler in the middle overs," Kumble reasoned.

Yuzvendra Chahal's numbers across all formats.

 

"Chahal got wickets in the first six games; his role has changed now because there are two spinners now, so the batters are also guarded against him," the former Indian captain added. 

Kuldeep, whose match-winning figures of 4 for 20 against Rajasthan Royals, boosted KKR's hopes of qualifying for the playoffs, found support in the Indian spin legend. "Kuldeep, of course, has gone for runs but he's someone who can turn things around. This is the crucial phase of the tournament, so expect them to come in their element," he noted.