The eighth edition of the ICC T20 World Cup commences on 16th October in Australia. Rohit Sharma and his men have reached Australia. India had an embarrassing 2021 World Cup after being ousted from the tournament group stage. The major missing for the Men in Blue for the upcoming competition is the absence of their premier players Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah, as both are injured. Jasprit Bumrah being out of the side with injury is becoming a routine which is not a good sign for the team. The team lacks quality seamers, and Bumrah’s absence has made things worse for the side. Amid all the criticism the seam department is getting, it is equally important to shed light on the spinners.

Unlike the Asia Cup, the squad for the World Cup features just two frontline spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin. Young Ravi Bishnoi has been named a standby for the tournament. The management will likely go ahead with Axar Patel as the second spinner in Jadeja’s absence, leaving Ashwin out of the team.

Chahal, who spearheads the spin attack, has faced criticism recently for not living up to his IPL reputation. So, the question is whether Team India is making a mistake by relying on Chahal.

Several factors are to be considered before passing a verdict. Firstly, Australian pitches do not offer as much help to spinners as to seamers. 

Secondly, Chahal is not a great mystery spinner like Rashid Khan or Wanindu Hasaranga. One of the paramount factors why Chahal might struggle in Australia is the lack of variation. The 32-year-old does not rely much on googly compared to his peers and loves sticking to traditional leg spin. Thus, his predictability would be a big plus for the opponents.

Chahal is India’s joint-leading wicket-taker in T20Is with 85 wickets but missed the 2021 T20 World Cup due to poor form.

He made a comeback to the team after an impressive IPL. He finished the IPL as the leading wicket-taker with 27 wickets in 17 matches.

If we compare his IPL stats with his performance for India in 2022, then the RR star has played 19 T20Is and picked up 21 wickets.

In the Asia Cup, except for the spell against Sri Lanka, Chahal had a dismal tournament, taking just one wicket in three matches and conceding 93 runs. 

The issue with Chahal is his inconsistency. Lately, the experts and fans have turned their eye to a budding Ravi Bishnoi who possesses more variations.

Former India opener Wasim Jaffer had earlier opined that he would be worried if India went to the World Cup with Chahal as their prime spinner. He had backed youngster Bishnoi to go to Australia.

Thus, Chahal’s upsurged economy rate is concerning for India. The 32-year-old has not stepped up in big games and recently got overshadowed by fellow spinners, be it Bishnoi in Asia Cup or Axar against Australia.

Further, he does not have a reliable partner to execute his natural game plan. Ravichandran Ashwin, the other spinner, was brought in late into the scheme of things like last year. Since the start of 2017, Ashwin has played just 14 matches and scalped fourteen wickets.

If we compare India’s spin attack with other teams, Chahal- Ashwin duo would be ranked much lower in the pecking order.

Afghanistan have Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, one of the world’s most destructive and feared spin duos. Rashid, who is eying Shakib Al Hasan’s record to become the leading T20I wicket-taker in the world, poses a threat with his variations.

Teams like Australia and England have limited spin options in Adam Zampa and Adil Rashid. But then they have quality seaming options than India. Thus, the management should have focused more on spinners when aware of a weak seam attack. Teams like Afghanistan and Sri Lanka know that their spin department is more skillful than seam and have formulated their squads accordingly, irrespective of Australian conditions.

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