'Decided to back Chahar for a reason' - Virat Kohli explains reason behind Chahal's T20 WC exclusion

‘Decided to back Chahar for a reason’ – Virat Kohli explains reason behind Chahal’s T20 WC exclusion

Chahal could not make a place in the 15-member squad despite India picking five spinners.

Yuzvendra Chahal
Yuzvendra Chahal. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Virat Kohli, on Saturday (October 16), admitted that leaving Indian leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal out of the team’s T20 World Cup squad was a difficult decision but explained the reason why Rahul Chahar was preferred.

“It was a challenging call but we decided to back Rahul Chahar for a reason. He has bowled amazingly well over the last couple of years in the IPL. A guy who bowls with pace, he did really well in Sri Lanka and against England at home as well, he was someone who bowled those difficult overs,” he said.

Chahal’s was one of the most surprising exclusions, given he has been one of India’s bowling mainstays over the last couple of years, apart from also being an established name in the Indian Premier League where he plies his trade for Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, a slight dip in the form in the few months preceding the squad announcement meant he was left behind in the race.

While speaking of Chahal’s exclusion earlier last month, Team India’s chief selector Chetan Sharma had said: “You want a spinner who can deliver with more speed. Recently we have seen Rahul Chahar bowling with speed. Our view was we need a spinner who can find the grip off the surface at a quicker speed and while we had a lot of discussion on Chahal, we eventually went with Rahul Chahar.”

On Saturday, Kohli echoed similar sentiments. “We believe going on in this tournament, the wickets are going to get slower and slower, so guys who bowl with pace will be able to trouble the batters as compared to those who give it air. Rahul definitely has those strengths naturally as a leg-spinner.

“He is someone who always attacks the wickets, that is the factor that tilted the thing in favour of him. Picking a World Cup is always tricky and you cannot always have everyone in that squad.”

India’s squad has other spin options in all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy and Ravichandran Ashwin, who is set to make comeback into white-ball after 2017. Meanwhile, Chahal made a quick turnaround in the UAE leg of the IPL, scalping 14 wickets in eight fixtures, in stark contrast to the first half, when he could manage only four in seven games.

Interestingly, Chahal’s return of form coincided with Chahar’s loss of it who played only four of Mumbai Indians’ seven UAE leg fixtures, picking only two wickets at 58 and economy rate of 7.73, in stark contrast to his corresponding numbers in the Indian leg: seven in four games at 11.14 and 5.57.