Chahal hails Siraj for defending 15 runs in last over


Mohammad Siraj had 15 to defend in the final over. Barring 2021 IPL, he has always featured in the list of bowlers with the worst performances in the death overs. Still, India were confident, says Yuzvendra Chahal as he was landing his yorkers in the game. Siraj produced at least five of them in the final over to choke Romario Shepherd, who has the game to pull off a heist. As he produced his final yorker of the evening to nutmeg Shepherd in the final ball of the game,  he walked ever so coolly as if he had done it all his life.

Siraj’s yorkers helped India beat West Indies in the final over, inching past the hosts on the final ball of the first ODI. Chasing 309, the hosts needed 15 in the 50th over but only managed to score 11 off Siraj.

Having started off the final over giving just a leg bye off the first two, Siraj conceded eight off the next three legal deliveries, barring a wide. The momentum looked to have shifted towards the Windies with four needed off the final ball. The 28-year old did get the final delivery right, angling into Romario Shepherd, who missed out on the line and could only gather a bye.

“Jis hissab se Siraj yorker daal raha tha, hume poora belief tha ki 15 runs bach sakte hai (The way Siraj was bowling yorkers, we had full belief that we can defend 15 runs),” Chahal said in the post-match presser.

“In the couple of overs he had bowled before, he barely missed on that yorker once or twice,” said Chahal.

“The pressure is of course there, the way they were batting, 15 runs needed in the final over, one hit could’ve changed the game. Especially when Sanju [Samson] made that stop on the wide, we got even more confident.”

The 32-year old leggie was the senior-most bowler in the Indian team that took the field on Friday in the first of the three-match series. Playing his 64th ODI, Chahal believed the experience of Siraj and others in the bowling lineup was enough to see the match through.

“It’s not like the other bowlers were inexperienced. If you look overall, everyone’s played a lot of matches. In IPL, in first-class cricket.”

West Indies were unable to cross the 180 run margin in their previous three ODIs at home in the recent 0-3 thumping by Bangladesh. When asked whether their batting came as a surprise, Chahal credited the Windies batting but also mentioned that it wasn’t just about the individuals, but the conditions as well.

“If you see the Bangladesh wicket, this one was totally different,” he said. “In the Bangladesh series, 180-200 runs were coming and the ball was turning a lot whereas this was another wicket altogether. Credit should be given to their batsmen as well, the way they batted in the middle order. The wickets weren’t falling but we knew if we even get one or two, the pressure would be on them again.”

IPL has helped in bowling tough overs 

With 10 overs to go, India still had three overs of Yuzvendra Chahal up their sleeve. And the 32-year old didn’t disappoint, picking the crucial wicket of Brandon King in the dying embers of the game.

It wasn’t the first time that Chahal was bowling in the finishing stages of the innings. That is a habit and a role he has developed over the years playing for Bangalore and now Rajasthan in the Indian Premier League.

“There (in the IPL), I have bowled the 16th, 17th or 18th over in every game,” he said.

“My role was made clear to me that I would bowl a couple of overs after the 14th, so I practice in the nets accordingly. We work on the mind plan when I sit with the coaches, the bowling coach.”

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