The World Cup debut for two Indian spinners will be an edgy affair

The World Cup debut for two Indian spinners will be an edgy affair
Kuldeep Yadav of India, center, is congratulated by Yuzvendra Cahal on taking the wicket of Henry Nicholls during the second one day international between India and New Zealand at Blake Park in Tauranga, New Zealand.AP/PTI(
  • Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will be playing for the first time in a World Cup.
  • Ravindra Jadeja is likely to play all games, leaving Virat Kohli to pick one between Yadav and Chahal.
  • Kedar Jadhav is a batting all rounder who can be an alternative when India goes with three full-time bowlers.
India is going into the 2019 Cricket World Cup, with three spinners - Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, and Yuzvendra Chahal - vying for what will almost certainly be a maximum of two available slots in the playing XI. For Yadav and Chahal, this will be the first opportunity to represent the country in a World Cup.

The slots for other two specialist bowlers will be filled by the fast bowlers. Jasprit Bumrah, the best one day international (ODI) bowler in the ICC rankings, will spearhead the attack, while the second fast bowlers’ slot will be a toss up between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami.

Jadeja, the first choice

So who does India select among its spinners? Jadeja looks set to be India’s frontline spinner based on his bowling record in England. Jadeja has taken 27 wickets from 17 games at an average of 27.00 and a strike rate of 31.50 - which makes him India’s joint-highest wicket taker in England (a record he shares with Madan Lal).

Jadeja’s record in England also includes his performance in the 2013 Champions Trophy, where he topped the wickets chart. Jadeja also provides an X-factor with his allround abilities, particularly his exceptional fielding. Having represented the country on 151 occasions, including 8 times in the 2015 World Cup, he is by far India’s most experienced bowler. He is followed by Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, who has featured in 105 games.

Kuldeep vs Chahal


In different playing conditions (like in the 2018 Asia Cup) Kuldeep and Chahal would have both been included in the playing XI along with Jadeja. While the World Cup debutants have impressive ODI records, the faster wickets in England mean that captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri have the unenviable task of choosing between them.

Overall record

MatchesWicketsBest bowling in an inningsAverage runs per wicketStrike rate (balls per wicket)Economy rate
Kuldeep Yadav44876/2521.7426.404.93
Yuzvendra Chahal 41726/4224.6130.104.89

Record in England

MatchesWicketsBest bowling in an inningsAverage runs per wicketStrike rate (balls per wicket)Economy rate
Kuldeep Yadav396/2516.44204.93
Yuzvendra Chahal 321/4367.50904.50

Their inclinations may be favour of Kuldeep if they rely on statistics, his superior record in England, and the uniqueness of his left-arm chinaman action. Kuldeep also has a better record in the past year - he has taken 48 wickets from 24 matches at an average of 23.14 while Chahal has taken 29 wickets from 18 games at 28.72.

On the other hand, Kuldeep had a forgetful time in the Indian Premier League, taking 4 wickets from 9 nines for the Kolkata Knight Riders before being dropped for the last 5 matches, while the legspin of Chahal fetched him 18 wickets from 14 games for Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Rotation as an option

Considering the tournament schedule - which replicates the format in the 1992 World Cup, with all teams playing against each other in the league phase - India may also be tempted to rotate its three spinners based on the opponent and ground conditions. India could then take an informed call on their No. 2 spinner based on how Kuldeep and Chahal fare.

The Kedar Jadhav factor

The unlikely evolution of Kedar Jadhav’s offspin provides India with an additional option as the 6th bowler, and he could be yet another hurdle to Yadav and Chahal-- especially in case India decides to shore up their batting and select only three specialist bowlers (Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar/Shami, and Jadeja).

Jadhav, Pandya, and Vijay Shankar could then be asked to share the remaining 20 overs between them.

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