England were 117/2 at the start of the 14th over, which was bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal, chasing 203 for not only a victory in the 3rd T20 but also a 1-2 T20I series win.
They had their batting mainstays in the middle and both Joe Root and Eoin Morgan were in fine fettle on the night and had been from the start of the T20 series against India too. While Root is an accomplished player against spin, Morgan can be unorthodox in playing the spinners and therefore, tough to bowl to and contain. The England limited-overs skipper can reverse sweep with or against the spin and his huge range of strokes allows him to score runs all round the dial basically.
Now, Chahal had two overs up his sleeve and in the context of the game, they were mighty important. Because if England, who were already in a good position, had gotten on top of the Haryana leg-spinner, Virat Kohli would have had a few pivotal decisions to make.
Hardik Pandya and Suresh Raina, who were doing the fifth bowler’s job, had been expensive, conceding 39 runs off their three overs and so, the Indian skipper will have had to get that over out of the way. Needless to say, England would have wanted to cash in and make that into another 20+-run over, like the 12th over of their innings, from which 22 runs were scored, had been. And, in addition, who could Kohli have possibly gone to if the 26-year-old Haryana leg-spinner had been taken for runs?
What we also need to acknowledge here is that the Chinnaswamy Stadium is renowned for its small boundaries and for being a venue which is hard to defend totals on. Mis-hits go for sixes and as a spinner, in addition to having the wherewithal, you need a big heart and fair bit of chutzpah to bowl when the match is delicately poised and one over can, quite literally, take the game away from your team.
So, taking those aspects into account, Chahal bowled a transcendent spell of leg spin: he wasn’t afraid to give the ball air and thereby tempt the batsmen into playing a big stroke or two. And, by giving the ball air, he extracted bounce out of a Bangalore pitch that had inconsistent bounce on the night.
Chahal showed how wily he was with his dismissing Morgan. This was a googly which had been bowled outside the left-hander’s off stump, meaning Morgan had to stretch to make contact. In addition, the leg-spinner extracted a little bit of bounce too and Morgan, who wanted to play the slog sweep, top-edged Chahal because of the extra bounce to deep mid-wicket, where Rishabh Pant took a relatively easy catch. This was a significant scalp for India, because Morgan, with his unorthodox hitting, can be tough to bowl to and contain, as aforementioned.
If dismissing Morgan was a piece of brilliance on its own, Chahal has reasons to be prouder of taking Root’s wicket. The England vice-captain, unlike most other English batsmen, plays spin well and does use the depth of the crease on turning Indian pitches. After getting off to a quick start to his innings and having looked in good rhythm, the pace of Root’s innings had slowed down and he entered a phase of the game (overs 14-20) that was going to test his credentials as a T20 batsman. In Nagpur, in the second T20I, Root’s 38 (38) didn’t help England and albeit he was a victim of a wrong umpiring decision, the right-hander’s lack of big-hitting prowess was a key factor in England not going on to seal the series with a win.
Remember, Root was dismissed on the very next delivery to Morgan‘s dismissal in the third T20I. To Root, though, Chahal had the upper hand because he was bowling to a right-hander and leg-spinners can be tough to get away for right-handers because the ball spins away from them. Root was camped on the back-foot and he possibly wanted to hit Chahal through the onside if the ball was in line with the stumps.
Root was probably unaware that he was facing up to a guy who was a world youth chess champion who knows what he’s doing and more importantly, anticipate what his opponent might do to him.
What did Chahal do? After dismissing Morgan with a well bowled googly, Chahal pulled out another one of his variations, the flipper. Flippers tend to hurry off the pitch and a pre-meditated Root, hung on the back-foot, was trapped plumb in front. Anil Kumble, who has the most number of lbw dismissals (156) in Test history, would have been proud of the way Chahal dismissed Root.
The wickets of Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Chris Jordan were more academic for Chahal, because the English batsmen had reached a stage where they had no choice but to play the big shots and from a spinner’s perspective, you want the batsmen to come at you, since such a tactic makes your job easier.
Chahal, you can be rest assured, will take great confidence from how the Bangalore T20I went for him as a spinner and not just the 6 wickets he took. He dismissed good batsmen with brilliant deliveries and he single-handedly won India the game, and with it, the series, too.
Which aspect of Chahal’s bowling stood out for you? Tell us, using the comments section below.