“If you perform well in the IPL, you go to the Indian team with higher confidence.” – Yuzvendra Chahal © BCCI
The Chinnaswamy stadium had a surprise visitor at the training session of the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Sunil Chhetri, India’s footall captain, who also had just led Bengaluru FC to their maiden ISL title, was on the fringes of the home side’s training session, even participating in some drills, much to the delight of the fans who had gathered here to watch their favourite cricketers in action.
That, however, didn’t stop AB de Villiers from dispatching the spinners into the stands, eliciting ooohs and aaaahs from the onlookers, as he put on a show for the scanty crowd gathered with a wide array of shots on display. Barring Moeen Ali, all the spinners bowling to de Villiers and Shimron Hetmyer taken to the cleaners. That, while Yuzvendra Chahal, one of the senior bowlers in the side, sat out watching.
The last time that Chahal bowled at the Chinnaswamy, Australia went after him, in particular Glenn Maxwell as the leg spinner ended up conceding 47 runs in four overs. Yes, there was dew assisting Australia, but the Australians who once struggled against Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal collectively, looked quite comfortable against the pair on their recently-concluded tour of India, where they won both the T20I series as well as the ODI leg.
When asked if the pair needed to change anything, given the ease with which they were tackled by the Australians, Chahal said: “I don’t think we need to change anything. Even they are here to play cricket, we are not playing gully cricket. They read us pretty well. It’s a good sign, so we can prepare ourselves more.”
Referring to that Bangalore T20I in particular that Australia won by seven wickets, he said, “There is some pressure when you play for the Indian team. In that match there was some dew and Maxwell batted very well. I learnt how to bowl in dew from that match.”
Chahal, who has been a part of the franchise since 2013 is one of RCB’s more senior bowlers in the squad. In a year where RCB have a few youngsters coming in, the onus will be on senior members to set an example and lead the way.
“They will expect a lot of things from me because I have been playing here for 6 years,” said Chahal of his role this year. “There’s more responsibility on me. I’m a senior bowler. I have to carry myself (well). It is amazing to see… Prayas (Ray Barman) bowl. He is just 16. When I played IPL, I was around 19 or 20. With seniors such as Virat bhaiya and AB, you will learn a lot even if you are not playing. It is a good chance for the youngsters.”
While RCB have a few youngsters coming in, they also have beefed up their middle order that was found lacking last season. The inclusion of Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Shivam Dube eases the pressure off the top-heavy line-up, leaving the side better balanced than they had been in previous seasons.
“This season we have a proper side. In the last season, we struggled in the middle overs, but you can see here that there are around 4-5 middle order batsmen like (Shimron) Hetmyer, Gurkeerat (Singh) and all. So, it can be said that we are a stronger side, compared to last year.”
But with the Chinnaswamy wicket going to aid batsmen this year, makes the job of the bowlers as much tougher. But, Chahal believes that a good IPL season will do wonders for their confidence heading into the World Cup.
“The wicket in Chinnaswamy was a bit of a turner last year, but this year it’s a good wicket. It’s going to be like the 2014-15 wicket, you might see totals of 190 to 200-plus every match. It’s going to be a good challenge, how you will mentally prepare yourself, how you come back in the next match when someone hits you for 40 runs in 4 overs. Here we have 14 matches but for India we have only 3 or 5 matches in a series. Here you can prepare yourself properly and come back stronger.
“It works for me. In the IPL you play in front of full crowds, you get that experience, and you play with so many legends. If you perform well in the IPL, you go to the Indian team with higher confidence.”