New Delhi: While listing down elite spinners of the modern-day cricket, one can’t just forget to mention Yuzvendra Chahal’s name in the list. The Chess master-turned-cricketer is amongst the wealth of spin bowlers that India has produced over the years. With his ability to clinch wickets in the middle-overs and wreaking havoc against the opponents, Chahal has been one of the key reasons behind Team India’s dominance in the white-ball cricket.
Through his exclusive online class with FrontRow, India’s spin wizard, Chahal spoke on various topics including how his interest in the game grew and how a match in the local tournament led him to the dream about donning the Blue Indian Jersey.
“When I gradually realised the emotion behind it, I began playing cricket in our neighbourhood, which I think everyone has. With dad, it was like, whenever his lawyer colleagues arrange matches, I would go, and do the umpiring for them. You know, I loved to be on the ground, and that’s how my interest grew. The seniors would pick me up. They would take me to the (cricket) ground with them. They would train and give me a free hand to do what I wanted. So, that’s how I started playing”, said Chahal.
He further adds, “During Pataudi Trophy, which is a senior tournament played in Haryana, I was just 10-year-old back then, the match was in Sirsa, and there were just 11 of us, including me. The remaining player couldn’t make it on time due to a flat tyre, so my coach asked me to play the match. You know, I was the only 10-year-old among those senior players. I took three wickets in the match, and after that, I was selected for the U-14 team. From there, I realised that I’ve made a proper beginning in cricket, and now I can focus on it. After that, I did the U-17 NCA, which was my first Indian camp. Whatever I learned during those two months helped me a lot in my first-class cricket. I realised when a senior player told me that if I stay focused, I get to play for India. So, from that moment, I was like it’s okay even if I get to play a single match, but I must don that blue jersey once”.
“Through FrontRow, I will share my experiences and my misses. I can even share my sources which we never had. Since I am a leg spinner, I would like to show all my four variations from all angles, two kinds of googlies which have been successful against left-handed batsmen. I also want to teach you the angle at which I bowl. I think my biggest plus-point is my mindset, I want to teach you that as well. So, I think through this course, I can share everything. If this benefits anyone in any way, then I am happy”, he added.
The 30-year-old cricketer also shared how he switched over to leg-spin from medium-pace bowling on his dad’s advice. “In the beginning, in school, I used to bowl medium-pace. Later, dad said that medium pacers need a proper body, and it also involves more risks of injury. Later, I don’t know what came over me, and I started bowling leg-spin. We used to play with a tennis ball in our neighborhood lanes, and back then I used to bowl medium-pace, and when get tired I used to switch to off-spin or leg-spin. I realized that bowl is turning more in leg-spin, which would make things difficult for the batsmen, so this made me enjoy bowling leg-spin more. I think dad made me realise it. And, I feel one should also spend more time on what you enjoy, whether you want to be a medium-pacer or a leg-spinner. You have to understand it that you are capable of”, he said.
Speaking about his cricketing idol, Shane Warne, the pint-sized leggie said, “I started watching videos of Shane Warne sir, and that’s where I realized what leg-spin is. He was my idol, and I wanted to be like him, bowl like him. You know, his name was all over the headlines and newspapers. I used to enjoy the way he used to trap the batsman. One class that he had was about controlling the drift, so that’s what I learnt by watching his videos all the time.
Chahal further adds, “I used to watch all his videos, and especially, the way he bowled Mike Gatting, which is every leg-spinner’s dream delivery, made me feel that even I should get a batsman out like that once. And, I guess that came true during the New Zealand tour when I took Martin Guptill’s wicket. I think that was my special delivery”.