India's leg-spinner, Yuzvendra Chahal, remains on the sidelines of India's World Cup plans, despite being one of the country's top performers in white-ball cricket in recent years.
Since making his debut in 2016, Chahal has secured the third-highest number of wickets in ODIs for India, with Kuldeep Yadav being the only spinner ahead of him.
Surprisingly, Chahal has missed out on representing India in three World Cups: the T20 World Cups in 2021 and 2022, as well as the 2023 ODI World Cup. Although Chahal was a part of the 2022 World Cup squad, he didn't get the opportunity to play a single game. The spinner has become accustomed to the selectors' decisions.
In a conversation with Wisden, Chahal acknowledged that only 15 players could make the final squad and therefore accepted the management's choices.
"I understand that only fifteen players can be a part, because it's a World Cup, where you can't take 17 or 18," Chahal said. "I do feel a little bad, but my motto in life is to move on. I'm used to it now... it's been three World Cups (laughs). "
"I don't think too much in that sense [on competing with other spinners in the Indian team', because I know if I perform well, I'll play," he added. "Someone or the other will eventually replace you in the future. That time will come someday."
Initially, India had included Axar Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, and Kuldeep Yadav as spinners in the squad. However, an injury to Axar resulted in Ravichandran Ashwin being called in as his replacement, even though the veteran spinner has seen limited action in ODIs for India in recent years. For Chahal, the primary goal remains India's victory in the World Cup.
"I take up the challenge in this way: definitely, they are doing well and I appreciate that. The main goal is that India should win, because this is not an individual game," he said.
"If I am part of the team or not, they are like my brothers. Obviously, I support India [team]. I like the challenge: it tells me I need to work hard so that I come back," he further said.
Several former cricketers have voiced their support for Chahal, believing that his exclusion from the World Cup squad could have serious consequences for the Indian team. However, Chahal is praying for the Indian team's victory.
India's World Cup squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav.