Chahal relishing being in the big league

RCB leg-spinner talks about Virat, Murali, Vettori and his favourite IPL wicket

Ranchi 18 May 2014
He was one Mumbai Indians’ stars when they clinched the Champions League Twenty20 title in 2011, featuring in all the games and returning match-winning figures of 3-0-9-2 in the final. That performance was followed by a lull as Yuzvendra Chahal only managed to get a solitary IPL game in 2013.

Not anymore. The leg-spinner from Haryana is on fire this year, with his new team, Royal Challengers Bangalore. In 11 matches so far, he has picked 12 wickets at an economy-rate of 6.68. With his impressive show against some of the big names and teams, Chahal is one of the frontrunners for the Emerging Player of the Tournament award in Pepsi IPL 2014.

In a chat with, after RCB’s thrilling win over CSK in Ranchi, Chahal reveled in the revival of his IPL career and shared his experiences with RCB.

Here are excerpts from his exclusive interview:

You have been one of the revelations of this IPL. Enjoying the success?

I am having a lot of fun and today’s win has been particularly special as it has given us a chance of making it to the next level of the tournament. We have momentum on our side with this win. Everyone has been great at RCB with me, backing me up at every step. I am enjoying my bowling.

You made your mark with MI in CLT20 2011. How would you explain the quiet time you had in the IPL after that?

I think it had mainly to do with the fact that (Pragyan) Ojha bhaiya became a part of MI in 2012 and joined Bhajji pa (Harbhajan Singh). With these two senior spinners, it was unlikely for me to get many chances and that’s what happened. The same happened with me during that period with my state team, Haryana. We had Amit Mishra playing for us and on a wicket like Lahli (which is conducive to pace bowlers), where we play our home games, it is difficult to play too many spinners. That was the main reason for the lull.

How did you spend the time when you didn’t play much cricket?

I kept working on my bowling. In 2011, I worked a lot with Maninder (Singh) sir and now I am doing the same with Dan sir (Daniel Vettori). It was important for me to not lose touch of my bowling when I was not playing for long periods. That is helping me now.

What is the one thing you’ve so far learnt from Murali and Vettori?

Dan sir has been especially helpful in me getting my stride right. I tend to unknowingly elongate my stride sometimes during my run-up and he keeps an eye for that and corrects it. With Murali sir it’s more about confidence. He always tells me to bowl confidently, and most importantly, have fun while bowling. He says enjoyment is the main ingredient of success.

Spin bowling is a very mental skill, and you have to outthink the batsman. Does your chess background help you in that regards?

It does, actually, especially the patience factor, when I am not picking wickets and giving away way too many runs. Due to my chess experience, I can beat the batsman in the game of patience, which I think is very important for a leg-spinner.

Can you remember any particular IPL wicket where you used this aspect to your benefit?

It has to be Kevin Pietersen’s wicket in the last match. He wasn’t stepping out against me for a long time and my instinct told me he could step out in next delivery. So I bowled him that ball (flat, short, leg-spinning ball that Pietersen was stumped off while trying to dance down the track). That was a very satisfying wicket.

What kind of a captain is Virat Kohli to youngsters?

Virat bhai is very supportive on the field. Even when I go for a six too many, he keeps it calm and tells me to not bother about it. It’s also the same with Yuvi pa (Yuvraj Singh) and all other seniors in the team. In the last game (against DD in Bengaluru) I gave away 45 runs in four overs, but there was no pressure on me at all during or after the game. Today, I went on the field and enjoyed my time there as I always do.

Honestly, what are your chances of winning the Emerging Player of the Tournament this year?

I think I have a very good chance, given the way my performance has been so far. I would love to win the award, but more than that I’d like to play in the IPL final.
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