"I didn't even realise when I played this match."
As far as unusual quotes go, this from Man-of-the-Match Yuzvendra Chahal to the Hindi experts on Sony-Ten is up there, but it also sums up the surreal day Chahal had.
Chahal was chilling when he saw Ravindra Jadeja walk in "wonky" after a 23-ball 44 that had kept India alive in the contest. Chahal might have had reason to be grumpy: he had just had his best IPL with 21 wickets and an economy rate of 7.08, but he was left out of India's first T20I after the event based on his ODI form.
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India's fans might have had reason to be grumpy too. They had gone from wholeheartedly embracing wristspin and dropping both Jadeja and R Ashwin to now being back to having no wristspinner at all based on someone's performance in a completely different format. Chahal being Chahal, though, was chilling, and said he had nothing to stress over. "In a way there was no pressure because when you are not playing you can relax," he said.
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Chahal might have had his reasons to be chilling at that point, but the BCCI medical team's inaction was confounding. Every other team's doctor goes running out, gives a player a concussion test, and checks his helmet the moment he is hit on the head, but India waited until the end of the innings to ask Jadeja how he was feeling. As it turned out, he was dizzy, which is a big red flag. Soon he was diagnosed to be concussed. A medical team of an elite professional team needs to take player safety more seriously, and overrule players even if they wave away help.
Be that as it may, Chahal said that 10 to 12 minutes before resumption of play he was told Jadeja was concussed and that he might be called upon to play. He might have been chilling but his brain had been working. He had been trying to work out what was going wrong. Two ODIs had brought him combined figures of 19-0-160-1, which resulted in the axe. He watched a lot of his IPL team-mate Adam Zampa, and decided he needed to bowl quicker, and draw extra bounce from the surface.
"I had been watching Zampa especially because the ODIs hadn't gone well for me," Chahal said. "I wasn't able to bowl the way I usually do. I was trying to work on my bowling, and make sure I make a good comeback whenever I get the chance."
The chance came at a notice of 10 minutes. "I just ran in quickly the moment I was told I might have to play. I warmed up quickly, came out, bowled two overs and did some fielding drills. The pitch was gripping so I decided I was not going to flight it for them, and bowl quick legbreaks like the Australian spinners had in the ODIs.
"If they hit a quick legbreak, it is a good shot, but from my side I was not going to flight it."
Chahal also conceded that the extra fielder out - in ODIs, you are allowed five fielders outside the circle for only 10 overs out of 50 as against 16 out of 20 in T20s - gave him the extra confidence. All his victims - Aaron Finch, Steven Smith and Matthew Wade - were caught in the deep. It left Australia questioning if Chahal was a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja, who is more of a restrictive bowler.
Sanju Samson, who took one of the catches, said such quick action from Chahal - turning in a match-winning performance at such a short notice - was indicative of the quality and the depth of the Indian team. They might just need to be more stringent with player safety protocols in the future.