"Mahi bhai does 50% of our work," says Yuzvendra Chahal
India's premier leg-spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal, was drafted into the Indian side after back-to-back stellar Indian Premier League seasons in 2015 (23 wickets) and 2016 (21 wickets), and within two years of making his international debut, he has become one of the mainstays of the Indian bowling line-up in the shorter formats of the game.
In the IPL as well, he is skipper Virat Kohli's go-to man. Not afraid to toss the ball up consistently and invite batsmen to make the charge, unlike some of India's former frontline spinners, Chahal has a penchant for picking wickets.
"He (Kohli) always stays positive and backs his bowlers even if the performance isn't up to the mark," stated Chahal in an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda.
Even in what was considered a sub-par tournament for him, the leggie ended up with 12 wickets at an economy of 7.26 for RCB in 2018.
"Performace wise the IPL was good as my bowling was economical, even in the powerplays I was one of the most economical bowlers," he said.
With the tour of England and Ireland in sight, Chahal has been sweating it out at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, under the guidance of former Indian spinner Narendra Hirwani. The 27-year-old is confident of his abilities and wants to continue working on the aspects he has been focussing on recently.
"I'm not working on any new variation"
Team India's road to the ODI World Cup next year isn't an easy one as they play the Asia Cup before touring Australia and New Zealand in the lead-up to the tournament and Chahal believes that these overseas tours will be "very good and a big challenge fitness wise".
The leggie has also built up a camaraderie with fellow wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who has been training at the NCA as well, and the duo have been ably supported by former captain MS Dhoni from behind the stumps in their brief international careers.
"Usually KD and I come in after the first 10 overs. Mahi bhai, till then, makes out how the pitch is behaving and how the batsmen are planning to approach the match. He then informs us beforehand if a particular delivery would work well on the track or against any specific batsman. So he does 50% of our work, which helps us bowl with a free mind," Chahal said of Dhoni's guidance.
With 78 wickets in 44 limited-over appearances for India, Chahal's next big step would be a place in the Test side. "Obviously I want to play in Test matches and hopefully the selectors will give me chances if I continue performing well in the shorter formats and domestic circuit."