NEW DELHI: India spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has revealed that it was spin legend Shane Warne who inspired him to bowl leg-spin.
Warne, the Australia spin wizard, took 708 wickets in the longest format of the game while in the limited-overs format he picked 293 wickets.
Chahal, who is India’s go-to spinner in the white-ball format, learned the ABCD of spin bowling after watching videos of Warne.
“I started watching videos of Shane Warne sir, and that’s where I realised what leg-spin is. He was my idol, and I wanted to be like him, bowl like him,” said Chahal.
“You know, his name was all over the headlines and newspapers. I used to enjoy the way he used to trap the batsman. One class that he had was about controlling the drift, so that’s what I learnt by watching his videos all the time,” he added.
The greatest spinner of all time, Warne, is also famous for his ‘ball of the century’. In the first Test of the Ashes series in 1993, the then 23-year-old Warne took the breath of all cricket fans away.
Reminiscing the iconic delivery, Chahal said,” I used to watch all his videos, and especially, the way he bowled Mike Gatting, which is every leg-spinner’s dream delivery, made me feel that even I should get a batsman out like that once. And, I guess that came true during the New Zealand tour when I took Martin Guptill’s wicket. I think that was my special delivery”.
The chess master-turned-cricketer, Chahal also revealed how a match in a local tournament led him to the dream about donning the Indian jersey.
“When I gradually realised the emotion behind it, I began playing cricket in our neighbourhood, which I think everyone has. With dad, it was like, whenever his lawyer colleagues arrange matches, I would go, and do the umpiring for them. You know, I loved to be on the ground, and that’s how my interest grew. The seniors would pick me up. They would take me to the (cricket) ground with them. They would train and give me a free hand to do what I wanted. So, that’s how I started playing,” said Chahal.
“During Pataudi Trophy, which is a senior tournament played in Haryana, I was just 10-year-old back then, the match was in Sirsa, and there were just 11 of us, including me. The remaining player couldn’t make it on time due to a flat tyre, so my coach asked me to play the match. You know, I was the only 10-year-old among those senior players. I took three wickets in the match, and after that, I was selected for the U-14 team,” he further explained.
“From there, I realised that I’ve made a proper beginning in cricket, and now I can focus on it. After that, I did the U-17 NCA, which was my first Indian camp. Whatever I learned during those two months helped me a lot in my first-class cricket. I realised when a senior player told me that if I stay focused, I get to play for India. So, from that moment, I was like it’s okay even if I get to play a single match, but I must don that blue jersey once,” he added.
The 30-year-old cricketer also shared how he switched over to leg-spin from medium-pace bowling on his dad’s advice.
“In the beginning, in school, I used to bowl medium-pace. Later, dad said that medium pacers need a proper body, and it also involves more risks of injury. Later, I don’t know what came over me, and I started bowling leg-spin. We used to play with a tennis ball in our neighborhood lanes, and back then I used to bowl medium-pace, and when I got tired I used to switch to off-spin or leg-spin,” said Chahal.
“I realised that the ball is turning more in leg-spin, which would make things difficult for the batsmen, so this made me enjoy bowling leg-spin more. I think dad made me realise it. And, I feel one should also spend more time on what you enjoy, whether you want to be a medium-pacer or a leg-spinner,” he signed off.