India Great takes on Rishabh Pant for his Yuzvendra Chahal tactics

Former India team guard Zaheer Khan has slammed India cricket captain Rishabh Pant for underusing spinner Yuzvendra Chahal in the team’s loss to South Africa in the first T20I in Delhi. The game played at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in the nation’s capital turned out to be a high scoring affair. While the hosts posted a commanding 211/4 total in the opening innings and looked set to complete a world record 13th victory in the shortest format, they were undone by stinging shots from Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller as the Proteas cruised to a seven-wicket triumph with five balls to spare.

After the match, even Rishabh Pant blamed the Indian team bowlers for the loss in Delhi, saying they left the team with their non-performance. The 24-year-old further added that India’s total was defensible on Delhi’s slow pitch but the bowlers, especially the spinners, missed a round or two allowing Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller to dictate the playing conditions, which cost the home team dearly.

“I think we had enough on the board but we were gone with our execution, but credit goes to the opposition. We thought the slower worked when we were at bat, but it got easier in the second inning,” Pant said at the postgame presentation ceremony.

Zaheer Khan, on the other hand, criticized Rishabh Pant’s handling of Yuzvendra Chahal who only managed 2.1 overs in the series opener.

Zaheer Khan was baffled by Rishabh Pant’s decision not to employ his first spin bowler for his full quota of four overs because on the deck at Arun Jaitley Stadium, Yuzvendra Chahal could have produced a handful.

Over the years, Chahal has enjoyed immense success on grounds offering some sort of assist and he could have done the same in Delhi. This may be the reason why Rishabh Pant’s decision has been questioned.

“Not using Yuzvendra Chahal’s full four over quota is something that Rishabh Pant will look back on and the team management will have conversations around. Because we’ve seen Chahal do that – he’s having a tough day but he has that ability to come back and take wickets. And what the Indian team needed to win that game was to bring in the next batter. So the decision was in your hands,” Zaheer told Cricbuzz .

“Maybe in hindsight Rishabh Pant will definitely try to analyze the game and see what he could have done differently. Maybe passing Axar could have given him the signal that the spin n may not be the right option now,” he added.

“Chahal’s ability is bigger than that. He could have created an opportunity – he can run but can give you wickets. The game would have been different,” Zaheer explained.

Notably, the leg spinner was the top wicket-taker in the recently held Indian Premier League (IPL), where he went on to pick 27 wickets for the Rajasthan Royals (RR).

Throughout the competition, Yuzvendra Chahal asked batters many questions, sometimes surprising them with a drift and a loop on his deliveries, earning praise for his performances from fans and pundits alike.

Rishabh Pant’s tactics were also criticized by Ashish Nehra, who was the head coach of Gujarat Titans, the eventual 15th IPL champions.

“The opposition scored 212 and Chahal only managed two overs. It’s not like he conceded 22 runs in one set. You know the races are flowing. Even Axar Patel knocked down southpaw David Miller. So, it was quite surprising to me that a bowler like Yuzvendra Chahal only bowled two,” said Ashish Nehra.

“Even Rassie van der Dussen was there. Even if you look at the left-right combination, you beat Axar Patel. So, I think you should have faced Chahal. I can understand the idea that you would want to contain the flow of runs, but once David Miller started hitting sixes almost everywhere, you had to bring in Chahal,” he added.

Nehra also slammed Indian team head coach Rahul Dravid who he says could have sent a message to Rishabh Pant to bring Yuzvendra Chahal back into the attack.

“Rishabh Pant is a young captain, he will learn and I hope he will get better. Now, if Dravid feels Chahal should turn things around, obviously a message can be sent. They have to keep it simple and be proactive.

“He only managed 2 overs today. Sometimes teams hold leg spinners because there is a left-handed hitter. It is important to keep a wicket option in the middle overs. If you have to stop a top quality international batter, you will have to take his wicket, defensive bowling will not work,” Nehra asserted.

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