By Gaurav Joshi
Xavier Doherty’s name might not rank even amongst the top three spinners in the country, but his economy rates suggest he is more than capable of applying the choke on the Indian batsmen.
Doherty was impressive in containing the brutal Indian middle-order in the first T20 where India managed to chase down Australia’s formidable total of 201. Doherty conceded 24 from his three overs in comparison to Ravichandran Ashwin, Indian master spinner, who went at over 20 an over and was handled with ease by Australia’s inexperienced order.
Doherty is not a huge turner of the ball, but his captain believes there are other aspects of his bowling that allow him to be so economical.
“He isn’t a big turner of the ball, but there aren’t many left-arm spinners who turn the ball — particularly in one-day cricket. He has very good change of pace, subtle use of variation”
Doherty strengths don’t enable him to pick up a handful of wickets, but his career economy rate of 4.64 showcases his ability to tie down the batsmen.
“It all about hitting the stumps and creating wickets that way, making it a challenge for the batsmen to score and obliviously he does that quite well,” said Bailey about his left-arm spinner.
Although Doherty will play his first One-Day International (ODI) in India, he has played in the sub-continent before and his record suggests he knows exactly how to go about his business. In the five matches he has played in Sri Lanka on similar wickets as India, Doherty got eight wickets at an economy of 4.75 and an average of 6.75.
Doherty has also played against the Indians in the past and managed to pick up six wickets at an economy rate of 4.23. One of the men Doherty has managed to keep in check is the Indian captain, MS Dhoni. In the 70 deliveries Doherty has bowled to Dhoni, he has conceded 40 runs and dismissed him once. Given Dhoni’s reputation of smashing sixes and mauling spinners, Doherty record is notable.
The left-arm spinner from Tasmania bowled around the wicket to Indian left hander’s striving them of the opportunity to hit with the turn and allowing his sliding deliveries to be a weapon. Doherty is a smart customer in the ODI game and his ability to keep it simple could just work in his favour.
Doherty is unlikely to dictate the outcome of the series, but if he can continue to stranglehold the Indian batsmen, it may just make an impact that nobody expects.
(Gaurav Joshi is an Indian-born Australian who played with Michael Clarke in his junior days. He coaches and reports for a Sydney radio station. Over the years he has freelanced for Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a regular on ABC cricket show Cow Corner. He is the author of the book “Teen Thunder Down Under” – The inside story of India’s 2012 U19 World Cup Triumph)
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