Yuzvendra Chahal, thin and with spiked hair, hardly seems like your regular strike bowler. JP Duminy, standing at the non-stiker’s end when he was introduced to bowl his leg-spinners, perhaps wouldn’t have thought much of him. Chahal had played in just one IPL match prior to Thursday night despite having been part of the Mumbai Indians for three previous seasons. But just five balls into the over, Duminy’s perceptions must have changed and how.
Off his very first ball, Chahal dismissed the well set Murali Vijay. The ball pitched back of a length on middle, zipping past a weak prod and on to the off-stump. Then a doosra had new man Ross Taylor blindly playing for a leg spinner. The next ball ripped across Taylor’s bat and the one after that caught his edge and flew past first slip.
By the time the South African batsman was on strike for the last ball, his respect for the leggie from Jind, Haryana, seemed to have grown manifold. Duminy respectfully bunted a full ball on off-stump, a delivery which he would have otherwise crashed to the cover-fence on a different day.
At the end of the innings; 15th over, Chahal finished his quota of four overs for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. He went for just 18, despite Duminy and Taylor having faced all but one of his deliveries. Yet, they just couldn’t get a hang of him. With the questions he posed, Chahal managed to tie down two international batsmen known for their destructive T20 batting.
This he did without a mystery-ball in his armoury —just good old-fashioned leg-spin. Trusting the fact that enough rotations on the ball will always put doubts into the batsman’s mind, Chahal stuck to his instinct and reaped plenty of reward.The young leg-spinner’s spell was a telling indicator of a trend that came to the fore in the recently concluded World T20 — that of leg-spinners being their team’s most potent weapon. Amit Mishra was India’s second highest wicket-taker, while Samuel Badree often opened the bowling for the West Indies.
Mishra, who relies on his flight and sharp turn to do the trick, has done spectacularly well in the World T20 and previous IPLs. Karn Sharma was the most expensive uncapped player at the 2014 IPL auction and much is expected of him. Both Sunrisers Hyderabad leggies, will take plenty of heart from Chahal’s performance.
Chinmay is a correspondent based in Pune