When Ravi Bishnoi was named in India’s T20I squad for the away series against South Africa, it, perhaps, was the clearest indication about his place in the think tank’s long-term plans with the next year’s T20 World Cup in mind.
With only six T20Is remaining for India ahead of the showpiece, it can be assumed that the 23-year-old leg-spinner has moved ahead of veteran Yuzvendra Chahal in the pecking order, for now at least. Chahal is not a part of India’s T20I side to face the Proteas.
Chahal is 33 and Bishnoi is 23, but the latter getting as much or more game time in T20Is is not just about a natural generational transition.
Chahal has played nine T20Is this year, grabbing as many wickets as Bishnoi, who appeared in 11 matches and picked up 18 wickets. The difference is there for everyone to see.
In the just-concluded series against Australia, Bishnoi was India’s go-to bowler and he rewarded the faith reposed on him by emerging as the ‘Player of the Series, taking nine wickets from five matches. It was not just about the wickets; the whole attitude shown by him to bowl under any condition or situation was praiseworthy.
In fact, Bishnoi had an eminently forgettable first match at Visakhapatnam, leaking 54 runs in four overs, and his fielding too was marred by a dropped catch and a few misfields.
But he fought back with gusto, and his run rate never exceeded eight thereafter.
Out of the 20 overs he bowled against the Aussies, seven were in the Power Play segment (1-6 overs). In this phase, he took five wickets at a fine economy rate of 6.45, besides bowling 20 dot balls.
Australian skipper Matthew Wade admitted that facing Bishnoi even on some of the batting-friendly tracks here was not an easy job.