Intense competition among a rich pool of players is driving leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to perform “at every given opportunity” and firmly cement his place in the India squad ahead of the T20 World Cup.
With a good haul of wickets in the ongoing limited overs series against Sri Lanka, Chahal wriggled out of the rough patch that had confronted him during the truncated 2021 IPL.
After contributing in India’s victory over Sri Lanka in the first T20 International in Colombo, he said that one must perform to be in the side.
“It’s definitely (a healthy competition). If you have a pool of around 30 players, you definitely have the quality. All the spinners are doing well. As a spinner, you know that there are at least two guys who are ready, who have performed here and in the IPL.
“All I can do is think for myself and perform at every given opportunity. If you perform, you get to play, and if you don’t – be it me or anybody – then you are out.
“So, whenever I have the ball in my hand, I don’t think about others and I rather focus on getting the job done with the ball,” Chahal said on Sunday night.
The T20 World Cup is scheduled in October-November.
Watching video clips of him bowling at his prime and speaking to men who matter, about the line he should pursue to regain his mastery over the craft, helped him.
Chahal, who returned figures of 1/19, spoke about the work he did in the lockdown.
“Definitely, when I was not playing, I worked hard with my bowling coach on where to bowl. (I was trying to figure out) why I was not able to perform in a couple of matches. So, I worked on these even during the lockdown.
“I bowled with a single wicket (to aim at). I practiced with my friends as to where should I bowl. This type of bowling is my strength always; so, I backed myself before I came to this tour,” elaborated Chahal, who has picked 63 wickets from 49 T20Is.
According to Chahal, the important thing is that the more confident he would be, the better he would bowl.
“During the lockdown, I reviewed my bowling but I did not want to make too many changes. I wanted to look at the finer points like which line I must focus more on, whether I should bowl wider or stump-to-stump. I sat with (Bharat) Arun sir. And here there are Paras (Mhambrey) Sir, Rahul (Dravid) Sir and I sat with them.
“I saw the videos, what I am missing that I have been doing so well, these couple of matches that was not happening, then I backed myself,” he added.
Chahal stressed that his job is to control the middle overs and he was pleased that he could do that and play a part in the team’s win.
“We knew that we were 10-15 runs short, but it is okay. Whatever the score is on the board, we have to defend that and my job is to control the middle overs and I was very happy I did that,” the 31-year-old said at the virtual post-match press conference.
“I just back myself (on) how I bowled, I always bowl like that only, so there is nothing on my mind if someone hits you for a six, I just back myself and I control the middle overs and that is my job,” the attacking leg-spinner added.
He also said that he interacted with former India off-spinner Jayant Yadav during the lockdown.
“In the lockdown, we could not go to the ground because of COVID. But the three-four sessions I got in my hometown, I went there, I practiced with Jayant Yadav, with whom I am playing since childhood and I bowled to him and I spoke to him.
“So, things started from there and the main thing was the more I remain confident during my bowling, the better I will bowl.”
Mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy made his India debut on Sunday and Chahal advised the Tamil Nadu player to bowl the way he has been bowling.
The second T20 will be played on Jul 27 at the same venue.
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