In the first leg of the Indian Premier League this year, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Yuzvendra Chahal had a torrid time with the ball, with just four wickets, averaging nearly 48 with the ball. His exclusion from the Indian side was viewed as a surprise but his form in the past year wasn’t favourable on his side.
However, his brilliant turnaround combined with Rahul Chahar’s dip in form has caused a major meltdown in the past few weeks. Indian skipper Virat Kohli though, insisted that it was a challenging call for the management but was stern that they decided to back the skills of Chahar for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
"It was a challenging call but we decided to back Rahul Chahar for a reason. He has bowled amazingly well over the last couple of years in the IPL. A guy who bowls with pace, he did really well in Sri Lanka and against England at home as well, he was someone who bowled those difficult overs," explained Kohli during a Captain's Call organised by the ICC ahead of the upcoming Men's T20 World Cup.
Since touching the shores of UAE, Chahal has outperformed all Indian spinners, with 14 wickets averaging 13.1 with the ball. The Indian skipper added that the management were looking primarily at Chahar, with his skillset of bowling at a pace, which could trouble the batsmen.
"We believe going on in this tournament, the wickets are going to get slower and slower, so guys who bowl with pace will be able to trouble the batters as compared to those who give it air. Rahul definitely has those strengths naturally as a leg-spinner. He is someone who always attacks the wickets, that is the factor that tilted the thing in favour of him. Picking a World Cup is always tricky and you cannot always have everyone in that squad," he added.
On the other hand, Kohli also spoke highly of Ravichandran Ashwin, who was recalled into the Indian white-ball setup, for the first time since the 2016 T20 World Cup. Kohli insisted that it was Ashwin's skillset combined with his ability to bowl the tough overs that tilted the selection in his favour.
"Ashwin has been rewarded for reviving his white-ball skills altogether," Kohli said.
[He bowls] with a lot of courage in white-ball cricket. If you saw the IPL in the last couple of years, he’s bowled difficult overs, he’s bowled against the top players in the IPL, and not being shy to put the ball in the right areas. Spinners can get intimidated by the way power hitters hit the ball, but Ashwin believed in his skill set.
"We felt like the way he was bowling and his variations now and his control over pace is something which is ... again a lot of experience, a guy who has played a lot of international cricket and he’s at his confident best. These guys can go in there and change the game with their spells."