Fate can be menacing sometimes, and it sure is for Royal Challengers Bangalore, who keeps letting go of some juggernauts, or rather the players become juggernauts after letting go of RCB. Shane Watson, KL Rahul, Marcus Stoinis, and Quinton de Kock, among others, have all become marquee players after departing from the Bangalore franchise. Yuzvendra Chahal might be the latest addition to this one-of-a-kind list.
Chahal has been RCB’s go-to bowler ever since he joined them in 2014. Even with a rather infamous and leaking bowling line-up, Yuzvendra Chahal produced several scintillating match-winning spells in the IPL. In 2016, he was one of the team’s pillars, along with Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, and Shane Watson, which reached the IPL finals and lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad. He ranked just two scalps behind Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the Purple Cap in that season. Even after that, Chahal stayed to be one of RCB’s most economical and successful options with the ball. The previous two IPL seasons in UAE and Covid-19 bio-bubble had a toll on Chahal, who was struggling to get going. He either bowled his quota with moderate economy or took wickets in exchange for getting smashed. He was unsuccessful in replicating his selling point of getting wickets while giving runs at low rates. RCB did have patience with their ace bowler, but time runs out when you need it. With a hunger for the first title rising every single season, RCB had to off-load their once best bet.
Left stranded by one Royal, Yuzi was picked by other Royals. Bangalore’s loss turned out to be Rajasthan’s gain. Chahal found an able spin partner in the veteran R. Ashwin, with whom he has formed a threatening partnership in middle-overs, something he lacked in Bangalore. With Ashwin handling the economy division, Chahal was free to strike the batters. Under Sangakkara’s management, Chahal is only expected to bring in scalps, and he is certainly enjoying his new role. The presence of Ashwin is another factor that relieves Chahal, as he can count on his partner for advice anytime.
This IPL season Chahal is the leading contender for the Purple Cap with 22 dollies in his pocket. His recent blitz show of 5-40 in his four overs quota speaks of the freedom he has under Royal’s management. He also took the first hattrick of the IPL 2022 against Kolkata Knight Riders, stealing the wickets of flamboyant Shreyas Iyer, excited Shivam Mavi, and a fiery Pat Cummins, eliminating every glimmer of hope KKR had to win. This came after a dynamic start from Aaron Finch, who, en route to his 58, played at a strike rate of 200+, smashing biggies here and there. Trapping Shreyas Iyer, who is an expert at playing spin, highlights how deliberately Chahal set him up. While a purple cap has been due for a while, this IPL season certainly looks out to be Chahal’s.
His striking form would certainly let Rajasthan Royals dream about repeating their 2008 antics. A Shane Warne-led Rajasthan Royals would certainly look forward to paying tribute to their legend by dedicating their title to him.
Chahal’s recent form also makes him a strong contender for a ticket to Australia for the T20 World Cup. Chahal couldn’t find his place in a 23-man squad that took on the contest in 2021 at UAE. His performances have certainly stood out for the selectors. It remains to be seen how Rohit Sharma and the Selection panel will decide on the squad with so many variables in the place.