India concluded their Super 12 fixtures on Sunday, November 6, as they beat Zimbabwe by 71 runs to top Group 2 table. Now, they will face England in the semifinals of the T20 World Cup 2022 on November 10 at Adelaide Oval.
This was a dominating performance by the Men in Blue, who ticked all the boxes in batting, bowling and fielding. However, the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel were unable to impress many in the middle overs. In their first two overs, Ashwin and Patel conceded 18 and 28 runs respectively. They finished their spells with three wickets for Ashwin and a wicket for Axar Patel, but those were of the lower order batters of Zimbabwe batting lineup.
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Many fans commented about the lack of specialist wicket taking spinner in the middle overs. Yuzvendra Chahal, who is in the squad, has not been featured in any match in the tournament. Ravi Shastri noted his absence, and commented on air,” You need wicket taking spinners. I thought India would play a wrist spinner today.”
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Chahal has been one of the bowling mainstays in the Indian T20 setup since 2020. He has taken 85 wickets in 68 innings, with an economy of 8.12.
The spinner was the most successful spinner of IPL 2022, winning the purple cap with Rajasthan Royals. He was also IPL’s most successful spinner in the middle overs, claiming 20 wickets in 17 matches with an economy of 7.43. The only spinner who performed better than him was Sri Lanka’s Wanindu Hasaranga.
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It must also be noted that the semifinal will be played at the Adelaide Oval. In the matches played on this ground, spinners have been crucial in the middle order, either as wicket taking options, or to stifle the flow of runs.
Most notable of them would be New Zealand vs Ireland match played on this ground, where New Zealand spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi took two wickets each in the middle overs. Thus, Yuzvendra Chahal is a viable option for the Indian team to play in the semifinal.
Going with Chahal also has some downsides. First of all, he isn’t handy with the bat, and his inclusion will mean one batter less. Ashwin and Patel are both all-rounders with superior batting experience. Another reason why Chahal might warm the bench is his poor record in Australia.
He has played three matches in Australia in his career, taking four wickets with an economy of 9.75. Including him in the playing XI is a high risk, high gain decision for the Indian team management.