The leg-spinners are buzzing again in the IPL, deceiving the batsmen in flight and turning the ball both ways. The best way to slow down run-rate in Twenty20 cricket is to dismiss the batsmen. Essentially an attacking breed, these leg-spinners have altered scripts with their strikes.
None more than Chennai Super Kings’ ageless Imran Tahir. He has 17 scalps in 12 games at an imppressive economy rate of 6.50.
The South African bowls with heart, craft and passion and his googly, quicker though the air and hurrying into the right-hander, is a potent threat.
Apart from the leg-break and the googly, these leggies possess the flipper, the back-spun ball that keeps low and hurries after pitching and the top-spinner, a forward spun ball delivered with a high-arm action, that goes through straight and bounces more.
Another key factor is the spin or the revolutions the bowler imparts on the ball, which enables it to dip or drift.
A wrist spinner can turn the ball on any surface, is not dependent on the pitch; a huge advantage over finger spinners. Take for instance Yuzvendra Chahal of Royal Challengers Bangalore, who has 16 scalps in 12 games at 8.04. Chahal is a tricky bowler. His action is a little roundarmish and he often gets the ball to skid through.
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Chahal’s strategy in the shortest format is also to bowl a little wider, outside a batsman’s hitting arc, and turn the ball. The batsmen often walk back stumped.
The batsmen are invariably seeking to unleash the big blows against the leg-spinners in Twenty20 cricket and often perish attempting to hit against turn.
While the batsmen often succumb to the leg-spinner’s stock ball — the leg-break — they also do not have time to pick variations. Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Rashid Khan has thrived season after season — before Monday’s game against Kings XI Punjab, he had 11 wickets in 11 games at 6.27 due to the different deliveries at his disposal.
Rashid has, arguably, the most well-disguised googly among all contemporary leg-spinners and he does bowl an effective top-spinner.
Shreyas Gopal, a clever bowler, with a high-arm action and natural bounce has struck telling blows — 15 wickets in 12 games — for Rajasthan Royals. He changes his pace and uses the crease to create angles.
Rahul Chahar, quicker through the air and extracting bounce with his high-arm action, had been among wickets — 10 in 11 games at 7.26 — for Mumbai Indians.
Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichhane, eight wickets in six matches at 9.13 for Delhi Capitals, is an exciting prospect with flight, turn and bounce.
The experienced Piyush Chawla, Amit Mishra and the younger Murugan Ashwin have had their moments too.
The leggies, despite the powerful bats and the smaller boundaries, are in business.