Dismissing his dip in form, the legspinner says the team management has communicated its confidence in him ahead of the Sri Lanka series
Since the end of the 2019 World Cup, Chahal averages 37.12 in ODIs and has gone at an economy of 6.45. Those numbers must be qualified with the fact that he has played in only five games during that period – which coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic – but his being benched during the entirety of India’s three-match ODI series at home against England in March was a reminder of sorts. Chahal though said that the team management had communicated its confidence in him.
“My performance – I don’t think it was a dip [in form] or anything,” Chahal said ahead of the Sri Lanka ODI series. “You can’t perform in every match. I will try my level best. This series is very important to me.
“I keep having conversations with the bowling coach. They [management] have given us confidence, and that’s why I’m here. If it wasn’t there, no one in the team [would be here]. My main focus at the moment is just this series – there has been less cricket over the last year, but that’s not in our hands. Whatever series happens, we want to perform. After this series, my focus will be on the IPL, and only then the [T20] World Cup. Right now, I’m focusing on this tour only.”
“I’m playing an ODI series after so long, but we’ve already played here – two practice matches. [We’ve been practising] early in the morning so that we get used to the heat,” he said. “It’ll be totally different compared to 20 overs where we’re on the ground for three, three-and-a-half hours.”
A major difference between T20Is and ODIs is the fielding restrictions – with only four fielders outside the circle between the 11th and 40th over of an ODI. Chahal said that while it might be hard, it isn’t new.
“I’ve played for five years, 50-plus matches, so I’m used to all this,” he said. “This is not an excuse or something. Now, when I bowl, I just focus on how to get batters out. That’s it.
“I’ve a couple of variations and I’m focusing on that only, not using other deliveries. You will see a more confident Yuzi in this series. I’m just working on my angles and in general trying to bowl more.”
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo