‘He’s street-smart’: Shoaib Akhtar names India player who should never be dropped

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India vs New Zealand: Former Pakistan speedster named the India cricketer who should never be dropped from the playing XI in limited overs cricket.

Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar heaped praise on India leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, saying that he should never be kept away from India’s playing XI. Chahal, who was the lone bright spot in India’s bowling unit in the three-match ODI series which New Zealand won 3-0, picked up 6 wickets in 2 ODIs.

“(Ravindra) Jadeja contains, he gets wickets occasionally, Kuldeep (Yadav) didn’t perform well but (Yuzvendra) Chahal was good. He should never be benched. Chahal has some tricks which can confuse the batsmen. He is a complete leg-spinner. He dominates the batsmen, he is street smart,” said Shoaib Akhtar in his Youtube channel.

Chahal played all 5 T20Is against New Zealand which India won but was surprisingly benched in the first ODI as India decided to go in with Kuldeep Yadav. The decision backfired as Kuldeep went for 84 runs in his 10 overs in the first ODI as India failed to defend 347.

Chahal was brought back for the last two matches and he picked up 3 wickets apiece – 3/58 in 2nd ODI and 3/47 in the 3rd ODI – in both the ODIs and was by far India’s best bowler.

Shoaib Akhtar, expressed concerns over the form Chahal’s spin-bowling partner Kuldeep.

“Kuldeep to me looks be a bit subdued, he is not playing freely. He was never really in the game, that’s a worrying factor for India. Apart from Chahal, nobody looked like picking wickets in the middle over,” Akhtar added.

Despite Chahal and Kuldeep being a successful combination in limited overs cricket, India have of late refrained playing both the leggies in the same playing XI since World Cup 2019. The duo have played 34 ODI together and scalped 65 wickets at an average of 22.73.

Even in T20Is, they hold a good record and have scalped 22 wickets in 10 matches. However, Kuldeep and Chahal haven’t featured together in an India XI in the shortest format since July 2018.

India will next on New Zealand in a two-match Test series starting from February 21.