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Ravindra Jadeja’s spell at Durban reflects the venue’s assistance for spinners

Ravindra Jadeja's (left) spell turned out to be crucial for India on Day Three of the second Test, as he picked up four of the five wickets © AFP
Ravindra Jadeja’s (left) spell turned out to be crucial for India on Day Three of the second Test, as he picked up four of the five wickets © AFP

 

Ravindra Jadeja was the pick of India’s bowlers as he took four out of the five South African wickets to fall on Day Three of the second Test at Durban. Nishad Pai Vaidya examines certain statistics that show that Durban is an oasis in the midst of a desert for spinners.

 

Has Kingsmead become the only spinner’s haven in South Africa? Going by reputations, you would expect Durban to feature a track with a greenish tinge, where the seamers would run in hard, purchase movement and make the ball talk with some bounce. However, statistics suggest that Durban has helped spinners since the turn of the millennium and it has been an oasis in the midst of a desert for the tweakers. In a land where the pacers dominate, the wily spinners may take solace at Kingsmead, Durban.

 

On Day Three of the second Test between India and South Africa, Ravindra Jadeja was the pick of the Indian bowlers with figures of four for 87. South Africa lost only five in the day and that puts into perspective how crucial Jadeja’s spell was for India. There was some turn on offer and he got it to go away from the right-handers. While most commentators felt that he was a good weapon for the right-handers as he was turning it away from them, it was amazing that he dismissed both the left-handers in South Africa’s top seven. Both Graeme Smith and JP Duminy were done in by the turn as Jadeja had the last laugh. This performance showed how much Durban helps spinners.

 

Let us have a look at a few facts to establish the notion. Here is a statistic that shows the number of wickets that have fallen at Kingsmead since January 2000 and those taken by spinners:

 

Wickets taken at Durban since January 1, 2000

 

M

W

Ave

10WM

5WI

Overall

13

405

31.88

1

16

Spinners

13

101

30.13

1

5

 

 

Out of the 405 wickets to fall at Durban, the spinners have taken 101. One may look at this break-up and say that spinners have taken only around 25 percent of the wickets at Kingsmead since the year 2000 and that it is a small number. However, the only ten-wicket haul at the venue since 2000 has come from a spinner. The spinners also average a little better than the overall figures, which also show that they have been marginally more effective.

 

For a much clearer picture, we must have a look at the total number of wickets spinners have taken in South Africa since the year 2000 and compare it with the overall figure.

 

Wickets taken in South Africa since January 1, 2000

 

M

W

Ave

10WM

5WI

Overall

71

2156

31.94

10

80

Spinners

71

392

39.83

2

13

 

 

Out of 2156 wickets to fall in South Africa since 2000, only 392 have been taken by the spinners — which is roughly 18 percent. This does tell you how dominant the seamers are on South African surfaces. It is all about them taking charge and winning games for their sides. However, at Durban, things are a bit different as spinners have a much better chance of putting in a match-winning performance. Off the 392 wickets noted above, 101 have come at Durban alone, which is more than 25 percent. That detail does reflect how big a factor spin has been there.

 

Spin playing a big factor in South Africa’s recent Durban record?

 

Off late, Kingsmead hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the South Africans. The last time they won a Test match there was back in 2008. Since then, they have lost four consecutive Tests at the venue and are looking to change that in the ongoing game. But, how much of a role has spin played in their struggle at the venue? Here are the relevant records:

 

Wickets taken at Durban since March 1, 2009

 

M

W

Ave

10WM

5WI

Overall

5

153

29.58

0

7

Spinners

5

45

29.80

0

2

 

 

Off the 153 wickets recorded at Durban since March 2009, 45 have fallen to spinners. What is interesting is that out of the 101 wickets spinners have taken at Durban since January 2000, 45 have come in the last five Tests at the venue. And, the more intriguing detail has been that South Africa haven’t won their last four Tests at the venue. While the spinner’s share of the cake may not be very big, but they have certainly bowled impact spells at the venue.

 

Graeme Swann and Rangana Herath picked up nine wickets each during their respective visits to the venue. Harbhajan Singh also contributed with six crucial wickets when India clinched victory in 2010. In 2009, the Australian fast-bowlers did the major damage, but Simon Katich’s chinaman was useful when they were defending a total.

 

Thus, MS Dhoni has to use Jadeja very smartly on Day Four as he is his trump card. Perhaps a Rohit Sharma may also get an extended spell. Having said that, don’t count Robin Peterson out, although the overseas spinners may have done better at the venue in recent times. If South Africa can back him, he could be a very useful option when India bat again in the Test match. Who would have thought that we would be talking about spinners in South Africa?

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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