In the end, a minor tweak in his craft earned a major reward for Yuzvendra Chahal, whose profligacy in the first two games painted worrying signs for Team India. After trying too many things for very little reward, Chahal knew it was time to return to basics — the approach that has yielded him so many wickets in franchise cricket. And when he did, the opposition camp struggled for answers and got tumbled out for a measly total.
20 runs and three crucial wickets from Chahal in Vishakhapatnam kept the series alive and kicking, thus preventing the remaining two games from being inconsequential. Irrespective of which way the series turns from here, Chahal choking up the middle order with his guile and turn felt like the start of something beautiful for this Indian side.
Throughout the series, the Indian spinners have been a major talking point for the series. Stand-in skipper Rishabh Pant was criticised for his decision to go ahead with Axar Patel and hold Chahal up till the end, despite the latter being a more threatening wicket-taking option. In the second game, when Chahal leaked runs, many people felt Pant did no wrong in the opening clash.
This was going to be an important match for the leggie, who has just enjoyed a prolific season with Rajasthan Royals. And he came up with a definite plan this time. Not that he bowled mindlessly in the previous games, but his defensive approach — bowling fast and straight — was posing little problems to players like David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen, who love hitting across the line.
“In the last game, I was bowling a lot of sliders, and I was also bowling a bit faster,” Chahal said after the game. “So even when I was bowling good balls, I wasn’t getting any turn. It was going like a flipper. My strength is to turn the ball, to get it to dip. I strayed from that itself. So it became very easy for batsmen as the ball was just going straight.”
On Tuesday, Chahal varied his pace, imparted enough drift, and allowed the ball to turn. He was perfect in his execution and knew the opportune moment to mix up things. His first over in the Powerplay went for just two runs, and then came back to get rid of Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius. Both batters misjudged the length, and their attempted cuts fell to Pant’s gloves.
Chasing a target of 180, the visitors soon found themselves teetering at 57/4. But all was still not over as Heinrich Klaasen, the chief destructor from the second T20I, was still out in the middle. It was Klaasen’s ruthless strike against Chahal that completed their remarkable turnaround in the last game.
Now it was time for the second episode. With the asking rate rising rapidly, Klaasen needed a big hit, and he is up against Chahal in the 15th over. Before this game, Klaasen has looted 74 runs off 28 deliveries against him, but all he could manage last night was a shot that went only as far as a man stationed at the extra cover. It was a classic tossed-up leg-spin from Chahal that sealed the game for India.
“Tonight I changed the seam position and bowled fast legbreaks in order to get some help [from the pitch]. I tried to vary my line too so that the batsmen cannot predict,” said Chahal at the post-match presentation.
Featured Image Source: BCCI