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India v/s Australia: With Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, the Men In Blue are wrist assured

With their wicket-taking ability, Chinaman bowler Yadav, leg-spinner Chahal add much-needed potency to Indian middle overs and have staked claim for regular spot among Men In Blue.

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India v/s Australia: With Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, the Men In Blue are wrist assured
Yuzvendra Chahal (Right) and Kuldeep Yadav
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It may be early days in their careers, but the wrist spin combination of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav is here to stay. At least in the limited-overs set up under Virat Kohli.

The manner in which Chahal and Yadav have been skittling out the opposition and bowling India to victories match after match, the absence of senior spinners whom they replaced in the limited-overs set-up, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja has not been felt at all.

Yadav and Chahal have each played nine ODIs and taken 12 wickets apiece. But they joined hands to play in the same XI for India in the fifth ODI in Colombo earlier this month. In the four matches that they have played together for India – 3 ODIs and 1 T20I – they have taken a combined tally of 17 wickets. These include 10 wickets already in the two matches this rubber, already giving severe headaches to Steve Smith and Co.

It pays to have wrist spinners in the side. Rarely do two wrist spinners make the same playing XI. They are regarded as the wicket-takers with their variations and the wrong ’uns besides foxing the batsmen with the conventional spin. They give the captains the attacking options.

The 27-year-old right-arm leg-spinner Chahal and the 22-year-old left-arm chinaman bowler Yadav have been Kohli’s go-to bowlers when the opposition seem to take the game away from India. Kolkata on Thursday was the latest example when Australia seemed to be cruising to victory when they needed only 115 to win Smith and all-rounder Marcus Stoinis were settling down to a partnership.

Once Hardik Pandya dismissed Smith to a catch in the deep, the floodgates opened for Yadav to bag a memorable hat-trick, becoming India’s first spinner to claim three wickets in three successive deliveries in an ODI. This, after Chahal struck at the top to remove Travis Head and the big-hitting Glenn Maxwell.

The two have also immensely benefitted from having a master tactician and former Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the wickets. They look up to the senior pro who has the knack of reading the batsman’s mind and accordingly guiding the youngsters to trap a prey.

And, on most occasions, the unsuspecting batsmen have only fallen in the net cast by the Dhoni-Chahal or Dhoni-Yadav combinations.

Chahal has thrived under Kohli. He cherishes bowling at the command of the Indian captain. Not only for the national team but also for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League. All but one of his 56 IPL matches have been for RCB from 2014 onwards while he did not get opportunities to play when he was with Mumbai Indians in 2013.

Yadav, on the other hand is only two seasons old in IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders, and is in only his first year in international cricket. He has always given the belief that he can pick up wickets, and has backed it with the numbers.

Yadav’s wrong ’un has been difficult to pick and it was this weapon that fetched him the hat-trick when Pat Cummins plodded forward to defend, expecting the ball to come in. But, it went the other way from the right-hander to take a faint edge en route to the ever-ready Dhoni.

Chahal has foxed the batsmen through the air with his pace, deceiving them whenever they charged down the wickets, never minding the wide delivery as long as the batsman was stumped brilliantly by Dhoni.

Being consistent is the key to wrist spinners’ success. They are known to stray with their length, sometimes going for runs aplenty but it is the duo’s ability to come back from a bad spell to pick up wickets that put them in good stead.

Getting wickets and being in winning teams give Chahal and Yadav the confidence. All of Chahal’s nine ODIs have ended in victories for India while Yadav has seen seven wins in his nine. For the baby-faced Yadav to say he can take David Warner’s wicket at will speaks volumes of the Uttar Pradesh lad’s confidence.

Compliments have been coming the duo’s ways after their recent performances. World Cup winner and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was quoted by PTI on Friday that it was difficult for Ashwin and Jadeja to make a comeback into the limited-overs scheme of things “if your current two spinners are doing well”. He added: “For Jaddu and Ashwin, it will be an onerous task to make a comeback in the ODI side. At the moment, these two boys are really doing well and I don't see them being replaced by Ashwin and Jaddu. You can't predict what's in store for the future.”

"Wrist spinners have certain advantages which is not condition dependent. Chahal has a good googly and can get his leg breaks to turn sharply. Similarly, Kuldeep can also get it to turn both ways. His wrong 'un is very effective.

They have that X-factor required at the highest level. Both bowl at different pace through the air. Kuldeep is a bit slower while Chahal has a lower trajectory with slightly more pace.”

While one cannot rule out the return of Ashwin and Jadeja to white ball cricket for India, Yadav and Chahal have made their cases stronger and have shown ample qualities that they are at the moment the first-choice spinners.

Chahal-Yadav duo in tandem


 

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