Varun Chakravarthy and Axar Patel are not big names in Indian cricket but could play key roles in the team’s upcoming T20 World Cup campaign. The former has only just begun to make a name on the IPL circuit while the latter gained belated fame with his historic Test debut against England, although he debuted for India in white-ball cricket back in 2014. When it comes to spin options, Ravindra Jadeja is the most accomplished slow bowler for India in the white-ball format as of now. Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav is battling form and fitness issues while Yuzvendra Chahal’s success in the IPL this year has come a bit too late, unless of course there is a twist in the tale. (October 10 is the deadline to submit T20 World Cup squads).
If we look at India’s spin options for the T20 World Cup, apart from Jadeja, Axar and Chakravarthy they have Rahul Chahar and Ravichandran Ashwin. While Mumbai Indians (MI) leggie Chahar has been impressive for the franchise as well as in the few games he has played for India, he has fallen behind in the log to Chakravarthy as far as the Indian starting XI is concerned. He hasn’t been part of MI for a few games and that will not boost his confidence. Among the spinners, Jadeja will be a definite starter given the complete package he offers with the bat and in the field. However, he cannot be expected to win games for India with the ball, which is where Chakravarthy and Axar come into play.
Suitable conditions for India’s ‘spin twins’
If we look at the UAE leg, Chakravarthy and Axar have been two of the most impressive slow bowlers in the T20 league. They have made the ball spin and talk. There has been enough on offer for the slow bowlers and both the KKR leggie and the DC left-arm spinner have exploited the conditions to the hilt. Batting has not been easy on the slow and low surfaces, which have aided Chakravarthy and Axar’s style of bowling. To their credit, they have been consistent right through and even they have varied their pace, they have rarely lost control. At the time of filing this report, both Axar and Chakravarthy had claimed eight wickets each in the second half of IPL 2021.
What could also work in the two Indian spinners’ favour is that the pitches will be expected to get lower and slower with each passing day. Remember the IPL is being played in the UAE since September 19 and the venues for the IPL will also be utilized for the T20 World Cup. With the amount of pounding the pitches are taking owing to games being played day in and day out, the surfaces are only going to get tougher to bat on. The more sluggish the pitch, the more Axar and Chakravarthy will come into the picture. Their success in the IPL ahead of the T20 World Cup will also boost their confidence.
It is not all rosy though. While Chakravarthy has excelled with his skills in the IPL, his fitness is a massive concern. According to reports, the leggie’s knees are not in great shape and the doctors and physiotherapists will have to work extra hard on keeping Chakravarthy in shape. India need his services for the ICC event. At the same time, the question arises – can India risk a player so susceptible to injury in such a significant tournament?
As for Axar, there is a theory floating around that playing both him and Jadeja would give a feel of sameness to the attack. Apart from being left-arm spinners, both are adept at keeping things tight. Of course, Jadeja is a much better batter while Axar is a much more skilful bowler. Outgoing T20 skipper Virat Kohli, coach Ravi Shastri and mentor MS Dhoni will have a massive selection headache, it seems, at the T20 World Cup.