A look at the statistics of the previous IPL seasons show that two of the top three all-time wicket-takers are leg-spinners. So, it should not come as a surprise that leggies have become the most trusted lot in T20 format and IPL in particular.
Some of the key bowlers in various teams are leg-spinners, and going by the early trend, they haven’t disappointed at all. Yuzvendra Chahal, who had a rare bad game on Monday night when he went wicketless and conceded 29 runs in three overs against Delhi, is number two in the list of top wicket-takers, behind Kagiso Rabada, right now. He has eight wickets in five games.
Mumbai Indians’ Rahul Chahar (six wickets in five matches), CSK’s Piyush Chawla (six in five), SunRisers Hyderabad’s Rashid Khan (five in five), Kings XI Punjab’s M Ashwin (four in two) and RR’s Rahul Tewatia (four in four) are the other leg-break bowlers among the top 20 wicket-takers.
With the exception of Tewatia and Chawla, the rest have kept the economy rate at eight runs an over or thereabouts. There are four leg-spinners among top 11 bowlers prior to October 6 game between Mumbai and Rajasthan. Delhi Capitals’ Amit Mishra, who is the second highest wicket-taker in IPL’s all-time list and was his team’s trump card, is returning home following an on-field injury.
If the early trend continues, leg-spinners will come into play even more considering that the boundaries, except in Sharjah, are not very short. Abu Dhabi in particular has a big outfield.
As per figures till the Bangalore-Delhi match, the three spinners with most deviation were leg-spinners making it difficult for the (right-handed) batsmen to hit against the turn even though the surfaces have been decent to bat on.
Chahal made it clear a few days back how he is finding the UAE grounds to his liking. The spinner, used as trump card by Kohli for both RCB and India teams, is used to bowling in half of his IPL games at the small Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, where even mishits can go for sixes.
“It is heavenly playing here. We play half (seven) of our league matches at Chinnaswamy, but here only three matches in Sharjah (which is also a small ground). With the side boundaries (in Dubai and Abu Dhabi), you can flight a little bit more,” said Chahal the other day.
“In small grounds, if the wicket is turning it is hard to put you away. Here the wickets are fine but with bigger boundaries, batsmen really need to middle you to hit that six. Even a short ball can give you a wicket,” he said.
Former India leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani points out to the confidence a spinner derives from knowing that the boundaries are bigger.
“It is simple. If the ground is big, then the bowler tends to take more risk. If I am bowling knowing well that the boundaries are bigger, then obviously I will try to tempt the batsman more and use variations in pace with confidence. When the batsman sees the flight and variation in pace, he gets confused and that is where he commits a mistake,” Hirwani, who grooms spinners at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, told IANS.
RCB’s Director of Cricket, Mike Hesson had recently said that the spinners would come into play due to size of the boundaries as well as turn the wickets will offer.
“On certain grounds, the role of spinners will be really big. In a place like Abu Dhabi, spinners have traditionally played a big role, it is a bigger ground and spinners come into equation. But it probably doesn’t spin as much as it does in Dubai and Sharjah,” he had said ahead of the IPL.
The environment has definitely supported the spinners, and not just the leg-spinners although the latter lead the way among the slow bowlers.
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