Yuzvendra Chahal, known for his prowess as a white-ball cricketer, has never been considered a strong batter. With only six runs in his T20I career and a total of 802 runs across all formats, the Indian team management’s lack of confidence in his batting abilities is understandable. However, this realization came at an inopportune moment during the first T20I between India and West Indies at the Brian Lara Stadium, potentially resulting in an embarrassing situation for the No.1-ranked T20I side.
As India chased a target of 10 runs off 5 balls with just two wickets in hand, Kuldeep Yadav was clean bowled by Romario Shepherd in the 20th over. Arshdeep Singh, who had provided some hope with a couple of boundaries in the previous over, was at the non-striker’s end.
As Kuldeep headed back to the pavilion, Chahal came in, fully prepared to bat. However, he quickly realized that coach Rahul Dravid and captain Hardik Pandya wanted debutant Mukesh Kumar to bat at No.10 instead. Confused by the noise from the dugout, Chahal retreated to allow Mukesh to come in, but according to the game’s rules, once a batter enters the field, they cannot be replaced.
Yuzvendra Chahal had to hastily return to the crease. While he managed to score a single off his first ball, Arshdeep was eventually run out on the penultimate ball, leaving Mukesh to face the last delivery. Unfortunately, he could only secure a single, resulting in a four-run victory for West Indies and a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
— Md Nayab 786 🇮🇳 (@mdNayabsk45) August 3, 2023
In hindsight, sending Mukesh ahead of Chahal may not have significantly changed the outcome, as there is little data to suggest that Mukesh is as proficient with the bat as he is with the ball. However, the Indian team management could have planned the situation more efficiently to avoid unnecessary confusion and potential embarrassment.
The match itself was a rollercoaster ride, with India largely in control of the 150-run chase while Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma were at the crease. However, a spectacular catch by Shimron Hetmyer that dismissed SKY shifted the momentum in West Indies’ favor. The game took another twist with the fall of Pandya’s wicket and Sanju Samson’s run-out in Jason Holder’s 16th over.
With the slow pitch challenging India’s lower order, they struggled to knock off the remaining runs. Axar Patel made an effort, hitting a six in the 18th over, but was caught at long-on at the beginning of the 19th over, leaving the tailenders with a challenging task.