'Keep an eye on him' - Ganguly identifies understated wristspin cog for India's 2023 World Cup plans
As India strive to firm up their 2023 World Cup plans and finalise arsenal in either department during the build-up to the quadrennial event, former skipper Sourav Ganguly advised the selectors and the team management to be mindful of the wristspin department and its health in the coming months.
Ganguly said while it is great for the think-tank to have an in-form Kuldeep Yadav becoming the incumbent prior to the mega event and for T20 maverick Ravi Bishnoi to present an encouraging backup, the decision-makers must cast their eyes on the state of Yuzvendra Chahal.
The ex BCCI president reckons Chahal must be given the confidence and game time to keep his rhythm and form strong in the lead-up to the World Cup in October-November, for the experienced wristspinner can be a real handful if he regains the lost mojo.
Chahal may have been dropped from the playing XI at the start of the year when Kuldeep replaced him as the sole wristspinner in a six-pronged bowling attack, featuring allrounders Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja alongside three specialist seamers, for series against Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia, but Ganguly believes he could be another key player in India's World Cup dream.
Ganguly backs Chahal for 2023 World Cup
Speaking to Star Sports, Ganguly cited the flat pitches employed for One-Day cricket in the modern-day world to illustrate the importance of a wristspinner, insisting that Yuzvendra Chahal would also be operating the World Cup with a point to prove since being axed.
"(Ravi) Bishnoi and Kuldeep (Yadav) are there but (Yuzvendra) Chahal somehow misses big tournaments. He performs extremely consistently in shorter formats, whether it is 20-over or 50-over. It is important to keep an eye on him," Ganguly said.
The former India batter referred to Chahal's ouster from the squad picked for the 2021 men's T20 World Cup and absence from the playing XI throughout the tournament's next iteration in Australia the following year to suggest he must be given a chance to prove his mettle at the big stage.
"When you will play Australia, England or South Africa, a wrist-spinner makes a difference in these conditions. In 2011 there was Piyush Chawla, who bowled well," Ganguly said.
"When we went to South Africa in 2007, there also our wrist-spinners bowled well along with the fast bowlers. Harbhajan Singh was in that team. I feel it will be extremely important to keep a wrist-spinner in Indian conditions."