BENGALURU: If Virat Kohli has been 'Mr. Consistent' for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the batting department, the same can be said of Yuzvendra Chahal when it comes to the bowlers.
Despite the criticism levelled against their bowling unit season after season, the leg-spinner has been their lone shining light. In the last seven seasons, he has scalped 121 wickets, finishing as the highest-wicket taker for the franchise on four instances and taking more than 20 wickets in three editions.
Can Chahal come up with another big season in the 14th edition? If one looks at his performances in the last six months or so after the last IPL, things do not look great.
In the two ODIs against Australia, he conceded 89 and 71 runs respectively. That proved to be his last outing in the 50-over format with the bowler not getting a match against England last month. His numbers don't look any better in T20Is either. Barring his 3/25 against Australia in Canberra early December, the Haryana-born man scalped four wickets in his last five matches against Australia and England, conceding more than 10 runs per over in four of them.
They might have Washington Sundar in the squad, but he is not used as a wicket-taker and playing Adam Zampa could make their other overseas picks tricky.
However, RCB head coach Simon Katich is not too worried and expects him to bounce back. The big plus point for Chahal being that Bangalore will play their first three matches at the MA Chidambaram in Chennai, which has assisted spinners in the past.
"What has happened recently is that England are a good team and he had a tough time. But we also know that he is vastly experienced. And in the IPL, his record is second to none and he has done a great job for RCB. We start in Chennai, which historically suits the spinners, so hopefully he will get some good assistance in Chennai and he can build on from there in the tournament. But what we have seen in preparation is that he is in a very good space. He bowled beautifully in the practice game on Saturday, took wickets, spun the ball," said Katich.
While the spinners might be happy to play in Chennai, their batsmen have struggled on slow batting surfaces. For instance, they were bowled out for 70 runs when they last played in Chennai. Katich is expecting their new buys including Glenn Maxwell, and Indian players including Sachin Baby and Mohammed Azharuddeen to address those concerns.
"We know Maxwell plays spin well, some of our Indian batsmen, depending on where they bat, that is their strong point," said Katich.
According to Katich, Devdutt Padikkal, who tested positive on March 22 in Bengaluru, does not have to be quarantined in Chennai after he gets tested negative.
“He would become available the moment he arrives. He doesn’t have to go through the quarantine process from what I’ve been told. The medical officers are available if needed, so he could start training immediately. So he still has got a couple of days to prepare. In a way, he’s in the same situation as Virat, Washington and AB and others who can get out of quarantine on April 7,” said the Australian.
Bangalore are scheduled to play Mumbai Indians in the IPL opener on Friday.