Former South African chinaman bowler Paul Adams believes that India is in a “unique position” in world cricket with the wrist spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in its limited-overs’ playing eleven.
The pair picked 33 wickets in six ODIs as India marched to a historic maiden bilateral series win on South African soil. With the ODI/T20 strategy moving towards wrist spin, Adams believes India is in an advantageous position if it can keep playing the duo regularly.
“If you look at the way cricket has gone in recent times, it has become more in favour of batsmen. So it is great for India that they are able to include both in the same playing eleven. Yes, they are wrist spinners but they are different. They can take the ball away from batsmen. With different angles and different deliveries, they are very potent,” Adams said. With his complex action, Adams made quite a flutter when he burst into international cricket in the mid 90s.
“India are eager to use both together and their team balance even allows for it. Not a lot of teams can do that, include two spinners in the same ODI eleven, let alone two wrist spinners. South Africa usually don’t use two spinners in ODIs or T20Is. At Johannesburg ODI, they didn’t have a single spinner on a good batting surface. Yet, India were able to play both. It is definitely a unique position to be in.”
Chahal and Yadav came into prominence in August when India made a strategic shift to leg spin, keeping the 2019 ODI World Cup in mind.
What started as an experimental move to evaluate spin options has now gained permanence as R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja continue to be excluded from India’s limited-overs’ plans.
Adams believed that the two wrist spinners have an advantage over their more illustrious colleagues as he dissected the wrist spin duo’s bowling.
“Their success is down to slow pace. Yes, they haven’t played in South Africa before but they saw the pitches here and knew that they had to bowl at a slower pace. They were put under pressure in only one match but it was down to conditions. The pitch was good for batting and they were attacked. But leave that game aside, they have been nearly unplayable,” said Adams. Going into the specifics, Adams felt the ability to take the ball away from batsmen adds to their potency.
“Chahal has a lot of consistency. He gives a lot of rotation to the ball, which is good. Yadav’s googly is very bothersome for the batsmen and not easy to read. The other thing that has worked from them is that they can take the ball away from batsmen. Irrespective of who bowls it, pacers or spinners, the ball going away has always been a wicket-taker in cricket. Someone like Ashwin has a lot of variations and I hear he is even developing some traits of leg spin. But these wrist spinners can move the ball naturally in both directions and that is more potent,” he explained further.
Adams was himself a left arm unorthodox wrist spinner and Yadav is in the same mould. He said Chahal could become and even greater threat.
“When I said that Chahal gives good rotation on the ball, it implies that he controls the ball well. He has more consistency in his line and length, which makes it difficult to score off him. Yadav is more prone to spray the ball. The South Africa tour will be of immense help to the two spinners,” felt the former chinaman bowler.
Adams believed that the IPL exposure has helped advance the wrist spinners’ progression. At the same time, he wasn’t overtly worried about South Africa’s batting future against spin.
“IPL does provide different challenges and settings. Chahal and Yadav are used to bowling in difficult situations and so learn to develop their skills like how to beat batsmen in flight, or trajectory, or change of pace. To a degree the IPL is helpful for batsmen as well but on those pitches you cannot learn how to play spin. You can only hit it.”
On the Proteas’ struggle against the spin duo, he said, “Not playing spin is not the problem. Staying at the wicket is the problem. That’s what we saw in the ODI series. When they didn’t have to stay at the wicket, they could attack spin. In other matches, they were not able to do that because they needed to build the innings over 50 overs.”
Some of South Africa’s better batsmen were able to do it as the series progressed. “But I don’t think there is a huge worry at the moment about this. Players don’t arrive at the international level as finished products. The best players learn on the job. A-tours to the subcontinent or even other conditions are beneficial. Young batsmen need to soak that experience in and work with that knowledge. After that, junior-level coaches will have a great responsibility in preparing the next generation of batsmen,” he signed off.
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