Spinners Chahal, Kuldeep face trial by fire in IPL

Until a couple of years ago, both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were Virat Kohli’s strike bowlers in limited-overs formats for India. However, they are now fighting for survival and the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) season will be crucial for them to regain confidence.

While Chahal was benched after the first three T20 Internationals against England and did not return to the playing XI in the last two matches of the series, as well as the three-match ODI series, Yadav, who had been travelling with the Indian team for the past five months, too got to play very little cricket.

Yadav, a Chinaman bowler, played only one international in Australia, an ODI, and then played one Test and two ODIs during England’s tour of India. His performance in the first two one-dayers against England was below par — 0/68 and 0/84 — and he was dropped for the last match of the ODI series. He hasn’t played a T20 since the IPL last season.

While Chahal is expected to feature in the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) playing XI for a few matches as he is the lead spinner of the side led by Virat Kohli, he is bound to face competition from Aussie leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who did well against India in the recent limited-overs series at home.

Zampa, for some reason, wasn’t played much in IPL 2020, and featured in just three games. It could have also been because he was a late replacement for Kane Richardson.

With off-spinner Washington Sundar also likely to be a certainty following his exploits for India in recent series against Australia and England, Chahal could find the competition tough.

RCB director of cricket Mike Hesson on Tuesday made it evident that pace bowlers will play a key role while pointing out they have picked a variety of pacers — those that can bring in variations like cutters etc and those that make the ball bounce and extract pace.

“We have back-up players, providing more depth. We want to change the style of play on particular venues, there might be certain grounds where we need players (pace bowlers) who bowl more cutters, there might be certain grounds where we need bounce bowlers,” Hesson had said on Tuesday hinting that pace bowlers will play a key role this time.

For Yadav, the challenge to make the playing XI of KKR, will be even greater.

The Kolkata franchise, which already had spinners Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy in their ranks along with Shakib Al Hasan and Pawan Negi, have also bought seasoned off-spinner Harbahajan Singh for this season.

Other than Yadav being one of his kind, there is no other thing that makes him a sureshot starter in the XI.

Yadav featured in just five matches and picked only one wicket.