The leg-spinners brigade from IPL… (From top left clockwise) Piyush Chawla, Karn Sharma, Pravin Tambe, Yuzvendra Chahal and Amit Mishra © IANS and PTI
By Abhijit Banare
When Anil Kumble retired, Amit Mishra had already burst on the scene and a lot of hopes were pinned on him. As years passed by, he faded away and the Indian team hardly saw any leg-spinner. But thanks to Indian Premier League (IPL), talented players emerge and make their presence felt, even though it may not translate into a national selection. The seventh edition has seen leggies across age groups, prove their mettle! Rahul Tewatia (20), Yuzvendra Chahal (23), Piyush Chawla (25), Karn Sharma (26), Amit Mishra (31), Pravin Tambe (43). And each of these bowlers are at a different juncture in their career. Leg -spin is an art and age doesn’t have anything to do with it.
Pravin Tambe: After making his name felt towards the end of the last season and in the Champions League Twenty (T20), Tambe’s story is one of grit and determination. At 43, his game is not only about consistent performances but the fitness level as well. Largely due to his IPL exploits, he is making a regular appearance in domestic matches for Mumbai too.
Yuzvendra Chahal: Very few knew that he was a national chess player at junior level, which indicates his smartness while delivering the ball. Rarely used by Mumbai Indians (MI), except in the Champions League T20 2013 final, Chahal has been one of the positives among young Indian players this season.
Amit Mishra: He is one of the leading wicket-takers in IPL and that explains a lot. Mishra has struggled but never given up, which is a brief definition of his performances in every season. After some good outings, he has been hammered in the last two matches, but one should never rule him out. He also holds an unique record of picking a hat-trick for each of the three franchises he has played in IPL.
Piyush Chawla: The Kolkata Knight Riders leg-spinner has been an erratic bowler and has come under criticism for leaking runs. Barring one match, where he lost the match bowling the last over, Chawla has been bang on target.
Rahul Tewatia: There were many raised eyebrows at the IPL auctions when the Rajasthan Royals picked him. But RR have been experienced enough to see the talent of lesser known players better than other franchises. Long way to go but Tewatia has looked very confident. The credit goes to the trials held by Royals every season. Tambe emerged out of it at DY Patil Stadium and this season it has been Tewatia.
Karn Sharma: Find of the last season for Sunrisers Hyderabad and was in huge demand at the auction this year, Karn Sharma started off as an all-rounder and his leg-spins made him a regular bowling option.
What makes them successful?
As mentioned earlier, Tewatia still has to play a few matches to prove but the rest have showed some common patterns which has earned them the wickets. One of them is ‘attack’. Tambe, Chahal and Mishra are least worried about the runs, time and again they will toss it up and look to fool the batsmen than to restrict them. There can be many examples. Mishra in certain matches has been hammered for runs while in others he has broken the back of the opposition with similar deliveries. In the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chris Gayle was at his usual when Tambe came on to bowl, but the leggie kept testing him until he got the prized scalp.
The googly: The use of googly or the wrong one from a leg-spinner isn’t a new trick. It dates back to 1900 when it claimed its first victim. But it’s the ability of the bowler which matters eventually. All these bowlers mentioned above have foxed the batsmen with this delivery. Mishra certainly has the most deceptive of them. Even during the Asia Cup 2014 and ICC World T20 2014, googly plotted the downfall of many batsmen. Chahal has been impressive as well in deceiving the batsmen.
Since T20 requires brisk scoring, most batsmen have no option, but to go after them at some stage. As mentioned earlier, tossing up and inviting the batsmen will automatically lure them into hitting the big shots. Like most leggies, they get hit for runs but that’s how they buy the wickets. Mixing the deliveries is the key and most of the above bowlers have done it well.
IPL puts them in one bracket but take them out and each has a different career ahead. Mishra is yearning for a regular spot in the Indian team. Tewatia, Chahal and Karn look for a regular spot at First-Class level. In the first half of their 20s, Chahal and Tewatia have a promising future ahead. It is a tricky phase for Chawla, as he will have to fight it out really hard to make an India comeback whereas for Tambe it’s all about how hungry he is to continue at this age.
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(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)