Indian leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal’s hardwork of the last few years in domestic and IPL cricket paid off when the RCB and Haryana bowler was named in India’s squad for Zimbabwe tour last year. Chahal, 25, is one cricketer who deserved the India call more than any other player in reckoning.
On February 1, 2017, the Haryana-born leggie told the world why he was Virat Kohli’s first choice when it came to opening the bowling for India in the 3rd and last T20I game against England in Bengaluru. Chahal picked 6 wickets for just 25 runs in his quota of 4 overs. This is the best bowling performance by any Indian bowler in T20Is.
A national chess champion
It was not cricket, though, which excited this leg-spinner who was born in Jind in Haryana. In his early years, Chahal wanted to be a world-class chess player. The Zimbabwe tour last year was the first time Chahal represented the country. He has represented India at the Asian Youth Championship and World Youth Chess Championship in Greece. Not only that, he was also crowned as U-12 national chess champion once.
C for Chess, C for Cricket, C for Chahal
Since the age of 7, Chahal had equal interest in both cricket and chess and it was the game of chess which excited the young Chahal more. Due to financial constraints, he had to bid goodbye to the game he loved but this did not leave him disappointed as he gave all his strength and power to the game of cricket.
Chahal has grabbed as many as 44 wickets from 31 matches in last two seasons of Indian Premier League. He ended the 2016 season with 21 wickets in 16 games at a striking economy rate of 8.15.
He might have abandoned the game of chess now but the skills he acquired to play on 64 squares in his teenage are helping him take wickets on the 22-yards. Chahal told an English daily , “Chess helps me in plotting the opposition batsman’s dismissal. I try to be one step ahead of the batsman, especially in T20 where the bowler has to think on his feet. When the batsman is going hard, I try to remain calm. My chess training helps me in staying focused with the job in hand.”