Had the ICC World T20 been two years back, Yuzvendra Chahal would have been a certainty for the Indian squad. Even a dip in performance wouldn't have bothered India's highest T20I wicket-taker, with the management dwelling little into his back-up options. But with Chahal struggling to find rhythym and IPL offering a noteworthy options, the leggie's position in the World Cup squad slowly slips away. Unfazed and rather motivated by the competition, Chahal now awaits the Sri Lanka tour come July to strengthen his case for the impending ICC event.
Until 2019, Chahal was among the most threatning T20I bowlers in the world, picking 44 wickets, the third-most during the period, in 27 innings at 18.88 and economy rate of 7.82. He remained equally effective in IPL as well during that period - 47 wickets in 40 innings at 23.3 and economy rate of 7.69. But since, Chahal's effectiveness declined in world cricket, as he picked 18 T20I wickets in the last 21 innings at 41.7 and economy rate of 9.15. This season in IPL, he picked just four wickets in seven games for Royal Challengers Bangalore at 47.5 and economy rate of 8.26.
Amid his slow decline, IPL has produced two effective options in Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakravarthy. Rahul was recently part of India's Test squad for the England Test series as a reserve bowler, has been in superb form, single-handedly orchestrating two of Mumbai Indians' four wins this season and being the leading wicket-taker in the middle overs. Varun was picked for two of India's T20I contests following a commendable IPL 2020 in the UAE but failed to make it through after twice failing the fitness test.
Despite the stiff competition, Chahal only finds himself motivated and draws inspiration from his personal milestones to back himself.
"It only reflects at the competition in the team and no chance to play for India is a freebie. That keeps you motivated to keep performing and keep working harder to keep the spot in the team. I played my 100th IPL match and India's highest wicket-taker in T20, these all factors keep me motivated," Chahal told India TV Cricket on Monday.
"Of course it's not always possible to come out on the top but we are humans and will have bad days too. Whenever I hit for sixes, my first thought goes on if it was a good delivery or a bad one. I mean it's important to appreciate the batsman too for hitting six on a good delivery. If I go for six that lands near the boundary in Chinnasawamy, I don't mind. I feel it was still a good delivery and with some tweak, it could yield better results."
"Very excited about the series against Sri Lanka and currently training at home. This is a good series to test yourself before the World Cup. If you do not do well in this, then more people are sitting ready to take your place. I do not think that much. If I do well on the field, I will play the World Cup in any case."
India are slated to play three T20Is and as many ODIs in the tour of Sri Lanka come July which will provide an opportunity to the white-ball specialists and the fringe players to make their case for the World T20.