With every season of the IPL, we see new talents emerging from domestic cricket as well as some fringe players breaking the door. The likes of Ravi Bishnoi, Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakravarthy have impressed in the past two IPL editions and their respective rise has coincided with a dip in Yuzvendra Chahal’s form and Kuldeep Yadav’s dramatic fall from favour across formats for India.
While Chahal remains a part of India’s white-ball squads, his spot in the T20I team is not guaranteed. His recent figures for India, with the exception of one T20I in Australia where he was called on as Ravindra Jadeja’s concussion substitute and took three wickets to be named Player of the Match, the legspinner’s number have been poor. In five T20Is against Australia and England in the past six months, Chahal has five wickets at an average of 52.75 and economy of 10.55. This isn’t what you expect from your premier white-ball spinner.
In these two series, opposition spinners like Adam Zampa, Mitchell Swepson and Adil Rashid went at an economy of 7.33 while picking the same number of wickets. It is very rare for an overseas spinner to out perform Indian spinner at home, which is why Chahal was sat out and Chahar preferred over him in the last two T20Is against England.
Even in the suspended IPL 2021 season, there were instances when Chahal did not complete his four-over quota for Royal Challengers Bangalore. In seven matches for RCB this season, Chahal managed four wickets at 47.50 apiece while conceding runs at 8.26 per over.
Let’s look at the performance of Indian wrist-spinners in IPL 2021.
In every aspect, Chahal has been below par compared to his counterparts. To be fair, he was never an economical bowler; rather it was his ability to pick wickets and break crucial partnerships at crucial stages which saw Chahal backed by Virat Kohli.
This skill set has been missing since the last IPL in which he was the best Indian spinner with 21 wickets at an economy of 7.01. While this is by no means to suggest that the doors are closing for Chahal, but with rise of Chahar, Bishnoi and Chakravarthy there will be pressure on him to deliver the results. Especially with the T20 World Cup around the corner, India cannot afford a further dip in performance of their premier spinner in T20Is.
The BCCI has announced a white-ball tour to Sri Lanka in July, and it is highly likely that both Chahar and Chahal get chances to showcase their form. This could be a make or break deal for Chahal.