Chahar v Khaleel - How pressure invoked contrasting responses from India's T20I quicks
Deepak Chahar has put in consistent performances in T20Is to ensure that he finds a place on the flight to Australia in 2020.
The gulf in death bowling and maturity
It was the 19th over. Bangladesh required 22 off 12 to win the first T20I in Delhi. Still, anybody's game. Rohit Sharma had the option of either going to Khaleel Ahmed or Deepak Chahar for the penultimate over.
Geneally, the skipper goes to his best bowler in the second last one in order to give enough runs to the lesser of the two bowlers in the last over to defend. There is little doubt by now as to who is the more viable option at the death for India. However, the instinctive captain that Rohit Sharma is, he decided to throw the ball to Khaleel Ahmed.
After conceding two runs off the first two deliveries, Bangladesh's most seasoned batsman Mushfiqur Rahim got stuck into the left-armer and took him for 4, 4, 4, 4 off four consecutive deliveries and there you have it, the match is as good as over.
18 runs come off that Khaleel over and India lose the match by 7 wickets.
Four days later, Rohit is faced with a similar situation. This time though, India are bowling first. Two dangerous strikers in Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hossain are at the crease. Having learnt his lessons from the last game, Rohit throws the ball to Deepak Chahar.
Mahmudullah, who had tormented Khaleel Ahmed in his last over with three boundaries behind square, tried a similar strategy against Chahar. However, armed with maturity and IPL experience, he dished out a change of pace short of length delivery. Mahmudullah tried to scoop it over short third man but all he could do is to lob it to Washington Sundar.
Chahar concedes just four runs in the over while picking up the all-important wicket of the Bangladesh skipper.
As a result, Bangladesh fail to get the impetus in the later part of their innings and can only manage 154, comfortably 20 less than the par score. India go on to win by a thumping margin of 8 wickets.
Khaleel Ahmed, in his relatively inexperienced IPL career, has done wonders in the only year that he has got a proper run in. Sunrisers Hyderabad picked him in 2018 but he got to play only one game that year in which he could not pick up a wicket.
However, his 9 matches in IPL 2019 yielded 19 wickets at an average of 15.10 and an economy of 8.23, with best match figures of 3-30.
On the contrary, after playing a total of just 5 matches in 2016 and 2017 and managing a solitary wicket, Deepak Chahar hogged the limelight in the domestic T20 competition Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in 2017-18, where he became the highest wicket-taker with 19 wickets from 9 matches at an average of 9.94.
On the back of this, he was picked by Chennai Super Kings in 2018, with captain MS Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming recognizing his potential with the new ball. Chahar didn't disappoint and has picked more wickets in the powerplay than anyone else in the last three seasons.
He had a stellar IPL 2019, ending as the third-highest wicket-taker with 22 wickets from 17 matches at an average of 21.90 and an economy of 7.47.
"With the new ball, his skills are right up there, swinging it both ways and getting a lot with the new ball in any conditions, and that has been his USP in the IPL as well." - Virat Kohli said after Deepak Chahar's figures of 3-1-4-3 in the 3rd T20I against West Indies.
"It was a defendable score, and we made mistakes on the field. The guys [bowlers] are a bit inexperienced, and they can learn from that, perhaps not make them the next time." - Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma said after Khaleel Ahmed's figures of 4-0-37-1 in the 1st T20I against Bangladesh.
After conceding consecutive boundaries on his last four balls of the first T20I and three consecutive boundaries on the first three balls of the 2nd T20I against Bangladesh, Khaleel has got a lot of stick on social media for his undercooked bowling.
However, one has to realise that he is still just 21 years old and quite young in his international career. The reason why India are giving so many opportunities to the youngster is because of his raw talent and that he is a left-hander and brings in variation in the Indian bowling line-up.
However, with the performances that he has put in, it feels like he will now have to do the hard yards in domestic cricket and earn back his international spot.
On the other hand, Deepak Chahar has been growing by leaps and bounds and appears to be a better and more mature bowler every time you see him.
Be it his Man of the Match figures of 3-1-4-3 in the 3rd T20I against West Indies or match-winning figures of 4-0-22-2 in the 2nd T20I against South Africa, Chahar has put in consistent performances to ensure that he finds a place on the flight to Australia in 2020.