Asia Cup: Have India scored an own goal by not picking a quality spinner?

India will miss Yuzvendra Chahal, a proven match-winner in white-ball cricket

By Anis Sajan

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Yuzvendra Chahal of India celebrates the dismissal of Kyle Mayers of West Indies during the first T20I match on August 3. — AFP
Yuzvendra Chahal of India celebrates the dismissal of Kyle Mayers of West Indies during the first T20I match on August 3. — AFP

Published: Wed 23 Aug 2023, 12:31 AM

I was watching, with a lot of curiosity, Pakistan’s ODI match against Afghanistan for many reasons.

Of course, Pakistan won the match comfortably with their pacers destroying the Afghan batting unit.

But I was curious to see the spinners' performance since all of the India’s Asia Cup matches will be played in Sri Lanka. I wanted to see how the wickets will play.

And secondly I wanted to see how Pakistan fare against Afghanistan’s spinners.

Out of the 10 wickets Pakistan lost, eight were taken by Afghanistan spinners, seven of which had gone to the spin trio of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan and Mohammed Nabi, who are quality spinners.

Yes, the wickets are slow in Sri Lanka. But you need quality spinners to get the big wickets of Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Imam ul Haq.

Afghanistan had three quality spinners. And not only did they get wickets, Pakistan batsmen found it difficult to score against them.

India’s squad that was announced on Monday has three spinners in Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja.

However, barring Yadav India lack a quality spinner who can run through a side. Both Jadeja and Axar can contain runs in white-ball cricket and have been picked in the squad more as batting all-rounders.

On flat wickets in India they will not only find it difficult to pick up wickets but even containing the batters could be a challenge.

Yes, you can only pick 11 players in the squad. But the spinners will definitely come into play in Indian conditions, even though the matches will be held at the start of the winter season.

Yuzvendra Chahal is a proven match winner and has repeatedly won India and his IPL franchises many matches with the ball.

And the pair of Kuldeep and Chahal, famously known as Kolchak, has done very well for India since 2017.

It’s just that handling spinners is an art that MS Dhoni was a master at.

The peerless Dhoni is still the master as we saw in the IPL earlier year when he used Maheesh Theekshana, Jadeja and Moeen Ali to outwit the opposition.

In a T20 match you can get away with batting all-rounders as you need to bowl just four overs, but in a 50-over game, you need specialist bowlers.

Picking both Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal would have depleted India’s batting, and the tail would have been long, but it’s fair to say you win matches with specialist bowlers, and Chahal is a proven match winner.

India will miss him dearly in the Asia Cup and more importantly in the World Cup which the team has been craving for long.


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