Spinners have always played a big part in Indian cricket.
Even now, though pacers like Bumrah and Shami are such an important part of the attack, spinners are quite integral to the team’s plans.
They are crucial for picking up wickets in the middle overs and bringing the run rate down.
In Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, India has an interesting crop of spinners.
They both had a rather stellar rise and initially, it felt like the two would be permanent fixtures in the senior team.
However, they have had a slightly lean patch off late and both have been trying to make a full-time comeback to the team with the selectors alternating between the two.
Which raises an interesting question?
Who will serve Indian cricket longer – Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal?
A look at the statistics so far:
Chahal is yet to represent India in test matches and hence all statistical comparisons have to be restricted to ODIs and T20s. Chahal fares slightly better in ODIs while Kuldeep is a lot better in T20is.
Kuldeep also has the added advantage of having played 6 tests where he has already taken 36 wickets. So, Kuldeep might seem like the more rounded of the two bowlers and therefore has a better chance of lasting longer.
But cricket is a lot more complicated than that.
Just take a look at Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the predecessors of Chahal and Yadav.
Ashwin is the more technically gifted bowler of the two but it is Jadeja who still gets to play on a somewhat regular basis for India. So, statistics aren’t of much help and we need to dig a little bit further.
What makes them special?
A good way of looking at this is by trying to define what makes both of them special.
Yadav is a left-arm chinaman bowler and that makes him much rarer. Hence, he is a bit more difficult for batsmen to read especially when they have to face Yadav for the first time.
Chahal is a bit more conventional with his right-hand leg break.
Yadav also has the edge when it comes to their styles. While Chahal tries to keep his line focused on the stumps, Yadav is a bit more attacking.
Even though both have been effective in overseas conditions, Yadav again edges Chahal out ever so slightly. Kuldeep is also better than Chahal when it comes to batting. As far as fielding goes, they are pretty evenly matched.
However, the biggest difference lies in temperament and the will to fight back.
Spinners can just as easily have a really bad day as they can create one for batsmen.
This is especially true on smaller grounds with little purchase off the pitch. This is where Chahal really falters. Once the chips are down, he is rarely able to mount a comeback while Yadav is someone who has time and again proven that he can never be ruled out even after a poor first spell.
Yadav is the only Indian to have taken two hat-tricks and the second of these proved that batsmen can never take Kuldeep lightly.
West Indies had gotten off to a great start and they had especially gone after Kuldeep during his first spell. It was not just the start of the match that had been tough for Kuldeep but it was just an extension of about 8 months of a poor run.
Yet, he managed to bowl a superb 33rd over that culminated in a hat-trick. This fighting spirit is what gives Kuldeep the ultimate edge. I am not saying that Chahal doesn’t have a fighting spirit. It is just that Kuldeep has the ability to dig a bit deeper.
Every cricketer reaches a point in their career when they can no longer perform as they used to and they fall out of favour both with the selectors and with the fans.
And inevitably, they get often forced out of the team. This can be especially hard for an Indian cricketer. Hence, the ability to dig deeper than most people is what decides if they will ever be able to make a comeback into the team.
So, if their careers, so far, are any indication, Kuldeep looks the more likely candidate to last the distance.
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