Southampton: Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal got India’s ICC World Cup campaign off to a flying start, claiming 4/51 to restrict South Africa to a modest 227 at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday. Chahal, one of two wrist spinners in the India line-up, bowled with great accuracy on a track which didn’t have much assistance for the slow bowlers.
With his spin bowling partner Kuldeep Yadav struggling for form, Chahal emerged as the strike-bowler for skipper Virat Kohli. However, the Punjab leggie gave credit to pace bowlers especially Jasprit Bumrah for providing the early breakthroughs and putting the Proteas under pressure.
“I'll give full credit to the pacers because when they pick one or two wickets in the first ten overs, then there's less pressure on me and Kuldeep. We can go after wickets then. Sometimes when you come in at 80/0 then we too will have some doubt. But when we are mentally clear after ten overs, Kuldeep and I bowl accordingly,” Chahal told the media in the ICC mixed zone after the game against South Africa on Wednesday.
Out of the four scalps, Chahal picked the wicket of South African skipper Faf du Plessis as the most satisfying one.
“For me the most satisfying one was Faf. He is their main batsman and in pretty good touch too. I had planned his wicket as well. So that happiness is there that a plan worked out well,” he said.
“My ball was drifting pretty well at that time. So I thought that I can bowl the slider at that time on the offstump, and it drifted onto middle stump and he didn't pick that. It hit the pad and went on to the stumps,” Chahal said, elaborating on the plan to dismiss Du Plessis.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore leg-spinner has formed a fine pair with chinaman bowler Yadav since Kohli introduced the both of them in ODIs and T20s after the 2017 Champions Trophy.
“We talk often. He had bowled three overs before me, so I asked him about how the pitch is playing. He said that if you bowl wicket-to-wicket and vary your pace, it'll be difficult for the batsmen,” he said about the partnership with Yadav.
Asked if there was extra pressure of playing in his first World Cup game, Chahal said, “I think I have played 40 matches already and I've played IPL as well, so I'm used to it now. If you think that it's a World Cup then there'll be more pressure. I try not to do that and continue doing what I have done before.”
The young leggie also credited his chess background for prizing out a few South African batsmen. “Chess I left almost 16 years ago, but still the patience that I've got has come from chess. Because in chess too you have to think 10-15 moves ahead and especially when you bowl to a batsman like Faf, if you bowl even slightly loose balls then it goes for a six. So to those batsmen, you have to bowl your best balls. When to bowl the variations, when to bowl a googly, when to bowl a flipper...that I give some thought about if the batsman is picking it or not,” he said.