The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had announced Team India's 15-member squad for the upcoming World Cup in England & Wales last month. Among the players were the names of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal who have been India's two premiere frontline spinners in limited overs cricket since almost two years now. Since their arrival on the international arena in 2017, the two young wrist-spinners have made a tremendous impact for India.
2017 was indeed an eventful year for Team India. At the beginning of that year, MS Dhoni had stepped down as India's captain from the limited overs format (he had relinquished Test captaincy at the end of 2014) and handed over the captaincy reigns to Virat Kohli, who officially became a full-time captain. The 'Men In Blue' then registered some memorable wins in all the three formats. They also had a good outing in the Champions Trophy where they reached the finals but unfortunately, were outplayed by arch-rivals Pakistan in the summit clash.
However, after the Champions Trophy, former Indian skipper and spin legend Anil Kumble also stepped down as the team's head coach. This post would then be taken over by ex-Indian all-rounder Ravi Shastri and then the rest, as they say, is history.
The biggest change that Shastri bought was that of giving an opportunity to the wrist-spinners over finger spinners which meant that Kuldeep and Chahal were preferred over Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the limited overs format. The change was implemented from India's historic bilateral series against Sri Lanka in August 2017.
The duo grabbed their opportunities with both hands and has managed to be among the wickets since then. Meanwhile, Jadeja succeeded in cementing his place in the limited overs side in last year's Asia Cup and a string of good performances helped him in consolidating his World Cup spot.
While it is true that the Kuldeep-Chahal combination wreaked havoc on Indian pitches, they also made an impact on overseas wickets as well. Leg-spinner Chahal scalped 5/22 against South Africa in Centurion in 2018. He also became the first spinner to take six wickets against Australia earlier this year. His figures of 6/42 were instrumental in India's first-ever bilateral ODI series win in Australia.
Kuldeep, on the other hand, took six wickets against England in their backyard last year. His figures of 6/25 helped India draw the first blood in the ODI series which they eventually went on to lose 1-2.
However, the spin twins have not had a good couple of months as the batsmen seemed to have decoded them. In the home series against Australia which India lost 3-2, both the frontline spinners were milked for runs by the Aussie batsmen especially Usman Khwaja who played the spinners well by using his feet.
Nevertheless, Chahal had a good IPL where he picked up 18 wickets in 14 games. But his bowling partner Kuldeep had a forgettable season where he could manage only four wickets in nine matches. His poor form meant that he ended up warming the bench in a few games.
The two spinners have been exposed at the wrong time just before they make their first ever appearance in an ICC tournament. Nonetheless, here are a few numbers that suggest why the spin twins play a key role in India's success. In the 44 One Day Internationals that Kuldeep has played, India have won 29 of them while having lost 12 games. Whereas, in Chahal's 41 ODI appearances, India have registered 31 wins and only nine losses. The two have bowled in tandem in 28 One Day matches where Chahal has picked up 43 wickets while the Chinaman bowler has 60 scalps to his name.