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How chess helped Chahal improve as a bowler

Source: PTI
June 06, 2019 16:16 IST
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'Chess has taught me patience and planning. When you play chess, you normally plan 15 to 16 moves in advance.'

Yuzvendra Chahal

IMAGE: Yuzvendra Chahal took 4/51 to help India beat South Africa by six wickets in their opening World Cup match. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Yuzvendra Chahal is indebted to his days as a chess player which taught him to pre-empt the batsman's moves and captain Virat Kohli feels this ability makes the leg-spinner stand out among his peers.


Chahal had an impressive World Cup debut against South Africa, picking 4/51 in India's six-wicket victory in Southampton on Wednesday.

"Chess has taught me patience and planning. When you play chess, you normally plan 15 to 16 moves in advance. Ditto when you bowl to a player like Faf (du Plessis), you need to plan whether to bowl a googly or a flipper, which are the deliveries they are picking and the ones they can't pick," Chahal said after the match.

He cited the dismissal of Faf du Plessis which he had planned after analysing the South African skipper's approach.

"I loved the manner in which I dismissed Faf. Since I was getting my deliveries to drift, I planned bowling a slider on off-stump and he didn't read," said Chahal.

He first shot into prominence during his first year at Royal Challengers Bengaluru in 2014, having mostly warmed the benches at Mumbai Indians previously.

"He is one bowler who will never say no to bowling irrespective of any situation in the match," his captain was all praise for him after the South Africa game.

"He is ready to bowl in Powerplays. If you keep seven fielders inside the circle, even then he is ready. He has a very high degree of self belief and the way he thinks about the game is very different from others," Kohli added.

While the skipper lauded his ability to soak in pressure, Chahal credited it to the pace department, which has relentlessly attacked the opposition.

"I give credit to our pacemen for setting it up as when myself and Kuldeep come into the attack, there is far less pressure on us," said Chahal.

But game awareness is something that is difficult to buy and Chahal has it in abundance.

"He is fully aware about the behaviour of the pitch and what needs to be done. That is his strength. Whatever he has achieved today, the credit solely goes to him as all he had done is to bowl his heart out," said Kohli.

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