India vs England – Chahal’s Rising Economy A Big Concern For India
A big reason for India’s walloping in the first and third match of the ongoing T20I series against England has been the performance or the lack of it of their ace spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. The leg spinner is one of India’s biggest match-winners in limited overs cricket in the last few years who excels in the role of the playmaker with the ball in the middle overs. He not only restricts the opposition batsmen during this phase of play but also picks crucial wickets. However, Chahal has seen his fortunes dwindle in the shortest format. His economy rate has been on the rise and his wicket-taking prowess on the decline. Chahal has been the most expensive bowler of the series so far.
Chahal has been taken for an astonishing 119 runs in his 12 overs across the three matches in Ahmedabad thus far – that is an economy rate of almost 10 (9.91) on an average – alarmingly high for any form of cricket. He was India’s most expensive bowler in the first couple of matches conceding 44 and 34 runs respectively. He was again tonked for 41 runs in the third T20I returning as the second-most expensive bowler for India in the encounter. To compound India’s problems the leg break bowler has just picked 3 wickets in the three matches at an average of 39.66. Thus, neither is Chahal picking wickets nor is he being able to control the England batsmen in the middle overs.
The idea of playing Chahal over Kuldeep Yadav or R Ashwin or even Axar Patel is that the leg spinner is a wicket-taking option for India and had a knack of picking big opposition wickets in the middle overs. He also used to control and own the middle overs as he has done successfully over the years for his IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore. Unfortunately, both these qualities of Chahal are witnessing diminishing returns and the decline is rapid.
Chahal had picked 44 wickets in 27 matches at an average of 18.75 and strike rate of 14.3 with 2 four-wicket hauls and one five-for from his debut in 2016 till the end of 2018. For an attacking leg spinner who thrived on taking wickets his economy rate of 7.81 during this time-period was very impressive.
But his numbers since 2019 have seen a dramatic decline. He has managed to bag just 18 wickets in 21 matches with no four-plus wicket haul in an innings in this time-frame. His bowling average has gone up to 41.66 and strike rate deteriorated to 27.3.
Even more worryingly, his economy rate has gone up to as high as 9.14 in this period. Restricting the opposition batsmen is as important as picking wickets in T20 cricket and Chahal is failing on both counts post 2019. In fact, his economy rate is the second-worst for a spinner in the world (min. 10 wickets) during this period only after Akila Dananjaya of Sri Lanka. Even his bowling average places him at number two from the bottom only marginally better than Shadab Khan of Pakistan. His bowling strike rate also clusters him in the bottom 4.
A look at Chahal’s Economy Rate since his debut in 2016 and there is a significant increase every calendar year. The reason for this is the rising percentage of boundary balls being conceded by Chahal every year. He has already been taken for 9 fours and 7 sixes in the three matches in the series.
Interestingly, Chahal was the leading wicket-taker amongst spinners in IPL 2020. He picked 21 wickets in 15 matches in the tournament and was also very restrictive conceding at an economy rate of just 7.08. Maybe Chahal – the leg spinner for India needs to take a few lessons from Chahal – the leg spinner for RCB in order to overturn his dwindling fortunes for the national team.