C O L U M N : GLOVES OFF
By Abhishek Roy*
Discarded off-spinner Harbhajan Singh must be a happy man watching othersof his tribe doing well in the World Twenty20.
Seven years ago, after India’s success in the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007, Harbhajan feared Twenty20 cricket would kill spinners.
His fears were justified. Spinners were easy prey for the batsmen in the shortest version of the game. A good delivery would find itself thwacked into the stands as batsmen started targeting the slower bowlers for quick
But the success of the spinners in the ongoing World Twenty20 in Bangladesh should finally gladden Harbhajan.
Be it Indian leggie Amit Mishra’s impressive performance against Pakistan and defending champions West Indies or Pakistan’s 35-year-old left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar’s opening act against Australia in their thrilling 16-run win, spinners are ruling the roost in the World Twenty20.
In fact, captains are in no two minds to throw the ball to the spinners to also open the attack on slower and turning tracks of the sub-continent.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s ploy to go in with three spinners has worked wonders in the tournament. But what was surprising that Dhoni is finally showing his trust in Mishra and is not overly dependent on his Chennai Super Kings teammates Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Mishra, who mostly has been a tourist in the last couple of years whenever he was picked for the national team, has finally proved his worth. His match winning 2-22 and 2-18 against Pakistan and West Indies earned
him back-to-back Man of the Match awards.
Ashwin, who has been traced out in the 50-overs game, has found his mojo. He conceded just 47 runs for one wicket in his eight overs, good by T20 standards, he has bowled in his two matches so far.
Jadeja, on his part, was exceptional in the opening match against Pakistan, giving away just 18 runs from his four overs but got a bit of stick against the West Indies as he leaked 48 runs from his full quota for just one wicket.
Like the Indians, the Pakistani spinners, especially Saeed Ajmal, have also been impressive. Ajmal is easily the best off-spinner in the world now.
But it was refreshing to see Pakistan sipper Mohammed Hafeez open the attack in their must-win match against Australia with Babar, who was ignored for the match against India. Babar was bang on target in the first over as he removed two big-hitting batsmen David Warner and Shane Watson to put Australia on the back-foot.
The spin duo Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree have also done well for the defending champions. Narine and Badree were the most economical of the West Indies bowlers in the lost match against India. Against Bangladesh, Badree was in his elements, picking four for 15 while Narine was against at his miserly best of 1-17 from his four overs.
Spinners are sharing the bulk of the bowling in the World Twenty20, sending down 10-12 overs among them and leaving the rest for the fast bowlers, who are still preferred at the death.
It does not take rocket science to understand why spinners are tasting success in the World Twenty20 on sub-continental tracks. But what is important is that they have finally realised what length to bowl at batsmen in the slam-bang version of the game.
*Abhishek Roy can be contacted at [email protected] ( IANS)