The wrong 'un in the pack - Yuzvendra Chahal
Few blinked when RCB bought Haryana spinner Yuzvendra Chahal in the 2014 IPL auctions. His name wasn’t known but his face would have been, he was usually the first out of the dugout whenever Mumbai Indians won a game in the three previous seasons. He did well when given chances in the 2011 CLT20 but Mumbai’s strength meant he never played another game for the team.
RCB’s enthusiasm for him was understandable and Chahal’s career economy rate in T20s was still an impressive 5.59. Getting a game was thanks to being a leg spinner though.
Leg spinners have enjoyed the limelight over the past month. Samuel Badree, Amit Mishra and Imran Tahir were among the top wicket-takers in the World Twenty20. Shahid Afridi and Sachithra Senanayake contributed to their teams' successes in the tournament. In the IPL itself, Mishra made an excellent hunting pair with Karn Sharma. Piyush Chawla and Rahul Sharma had their successes too. Shane Warne was a legend who fortified Jaipur. Royal Challengers Bangalore has its own history with leg spin, Anil Kumble's 5/5 against Warne’s Royals had kick-started a superb season for RCB in 2009.
Virat Kohli had a role in Mishra's success, playing him regularly as a third spinner in the Asia Cup and the leggie reclaimed his place with a run of good figures. Buoyed by Mishra’s success and Chahal’s own stunning figures, he was picked by Kohli to play the new team’s first game together in IPL 7. With his first delivery, he removed a set Murali Vijay and continued to keep Ross Taylor busy guessing for the rest of the night. JP Duminy had lesser trouble picking the deliveries but the line cramped him of space to play shots. He finished with 1/18 and edged out performances from Varun Aaron, Starc, Parthiv, Virat and Yuvraj to win the Man of the Match against Delhi Daredevils.
RCB's next opponents Mumbai Indians had already played Chahal in the nets when he was a part of the squad and presented literally taller challenges in the form Kieron Pollard, who had used his immense reach and power to savage Amit Mishra in the 2013 IPL. Chahal began the game by dropping Michael Hussey off the second ball of the game but caught his next offer two overs later. He was held back against Tare but was given a go at the new batsman when Tare was dismissed. He teased Rohit Sharma with his flight and soon had him holing out to long on, done in by the wrong 'un. He was given a slip against Pollard and bowled flighted deliveries outside off to dare the West Indian. Pollard was gone in his next over, another catch for long on. He changed his line of attack for Corey Anderson completely, bowling mostly googlies and almost had him twice. He finished with 2/17 and RCB successfully chased the 115/9 that MI had been restricted to.
Shadab Jakati and Muttiah Muralitharan are the two other spinners in the squad but Chahal provides his unique threat to batsmen as well as a containing option to the skipper. Doubts were cast on the strength of RCB’s bowling in the lead up to IPL 7 but Chahal’s performance has shown the bowling shouldn’t be taken lightly either. All it takes is a wrong 'un to see the mighty hitters stranded outside their ground, royally played by the challenger out to seize the day.
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