Rahul Chahar, the latest leggie to get India look in

Chahar, after starring in Mumbai Indians' record title-winning season in May, has won a call up for the three-match Twenty20 series against the West Indies.

Rahul Chahar impressed in the IPL for Mumbai Indians with 13 wickets.   -  K.V.S Giri

Rajasthan’s Rahul Chahar, just a few days away from turning 20, is the latest leg-spin bowler, who has made a break through into the Indian team.

Only five months ago, Punjab’s 21-year-old Mayank Markande made his T20I debut against Australia in Visakhapatnam. Markande was fast-tracked after impressing for Mumbai Indians in his maiden IPL season last year. He took 15 wickets at an economy of over eight.

And now Chahar, after starring in MI's record title-winning season in May, has won a call up for the three-match T20 series against the West Indies. Chahar was MI’s main spinner taking 13 wickets at an economy rate (6.55 rpo) that kept the batsmen under check.

In all 28 leg-spinners, specialists, part-time and casual, have bowled for India in Test cricket, and 15 in ODIs. Most of them plied their trade in first class cricket (Ranji, Duleep, Irani Trophy matches) and found their way into the Indian team. In recent times, IPL has hastened the opportunity for the leg spinners to wear the blue jersey.

Mumbai Indians can take credit for spotting the talents in both Markande and Chahar and bringing them into the big stage of T20, where batsmen rule the roost. After the introduction of Yuzvendra Chahal (right hand, 31 matches/46 wkts) and Kuldeep Yadav (left hand, 18/35), Indian cricket is looking more at wrist spin options.

Before the pair, India’s previous leg spinners in T20Is were Amit Mishra (10 matches/16 wkts), Piyush Chawla (7/4), Rahul Sharma (2/3), Karn Sharma (1/1) and Sachin Tendulkar (1/1). All put together have an excellent record of 106 wickets at an average of 18.34 and an economy of a little over seven an over. 

Abey Kuruvilla, former India seamer and talent scout with MI, feels that the ideal situation would be to perform in first class cricket and impress the selectors. He cited Anil Kumble as an  example.

Talking about wrist spinners getting an early break he said, "The selectors are rotating and giving opportunities to leg spinners in Twenty20. They bring the novelty factor and wicket taking ability. The finger spinners are vanishing in this format; with smaller boundary lines and heavy bats."

He added, "IPL is a high-pressure competition and Chahar has been able to absorb pressure; he’s mentally tough and he’s very accurate with not much turn. It’s difficult for finger spinners to survive in T20.’’