In the last edition of the World Cup in 2015, Ravichandran Ashwin was the leader of India’s spin department. Going into the World Cup in England and Wales this time, the spin department is being manned largely by two youngsters – Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav (with all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja also in the squad). The 28-year-old Chahal, from Jind in Haryana, is ready to unleash his full arsenal of deliveries in what is his maiden World Cup outing.
“Trust is the biggest thing between me and Kuldeep. We trust each other. Just like batsmen do in their partnerships, Kuldeep and I do while bowling. We have good coordination and the best part is that we understand each other,” Chahal told TimesofIndia.com.
“We (Kuldeep and I) discuss plans with each other and implement those with the help of our seniors, especially (Virat) Kohli bhai and (MS Dhoni) Mahi bhai. We will do the same in the World Cup,” he said.
Chahal, who has played 41 ODIs so far and claimed 72 wickets at an average of 24.61, including two-five wicket hauls, played 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is in England in 2018 and he feels the experience of playing in England will help him in the quadrennial event.
“I have played cricket in England. I am aware of the conditions. When I played in England (in 2018), the conditions were favourable for the spinners. I am sure spinners will do well this time. Bowling in English conditions isn’t that easy,” Chahal said.
“I am very excited for my maiden World Cup. I have worked really hard for this moment. It is every cricketer’s dream to play in the World Cup and for me it is going to come true. Obviously, there is pressure but I am ready to give my best,” he said.
For Chahal, a former national level Chess player, ‘keep calm and take wickets’ has been the mantra in his international career.
“You need to be patient. Patience is the key for me. Sometimes, you bowl over after over and don’t get any success. That is the time when you need to keep your calm. If you panic, things won’t go according to plan then,” Chahal said.
“I have played Chess and that’s what taught me patience. You have to sit for hours to make one move. That is what helps me on the cricket field,” he said.
Cricket pundits have already tagged India, the 1983 and 2011 champions as one of the big favourites in the mega event and Chahal echoes that sentiment.
“For me, India are number one. We have a balanced and strong team. We have the best team. Apart from us, England are strong, because they are the hosts and they have played good cricket recently. Australia and New Zealand are the other teams who can be very competitive in my opinion,” the 28-year-old told TimesofIndia.com.
“I know, there are lots of expectations from us. Again, the pressure is there but I know how to handle it. You should know how to handle pressure and this is what I have learnt over the years. At this moment, the focus is very important. I am not thinking about anything else right now. Only the World Cup is on my mind. I just want to go and perform,” Chahal said.
“In the previous matches (against England in England), I committed mistakes and then learnt from those as well,” he said.
India won the World Cup title in 1983 under the captaincy of the legendary Kapil Dev and then repeated the historic feat in 2011 under MS Dhoni’s leadership.
Chahal is confident that India, who will be captained by Virat Kohli this time, will do what the Dhoni-led Indian team did in 2011.
“If you look at India’s batting line-up, it looks really strong. We have openers Rohit (Sharma) and (Shikhar) Dhawan who can give you a decent start. Kohli, Rahul, Dhoni, Jadeja are there in the middle. Our bowling is also strong. (Mohammed) Shami, (Jasprit) Bumrah, Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) make a great bowling line-up. I think India have a good chance of winning the Cup.,” Chahal said.
“With captain (Virat) Kohli and the legendary (MS) Dhoni in the side, I am sure India will do well in the World Cup,” Chahal signed off.