Royals line-up shows left is the new right

Rajasthan have five left-arm Spinners in their squad as against one right-armer

Written by Aditya Iyer | New Delhi | Published:April 6, 2013 2:11 am

Left shoulder flapping against his helmet’s visor,Owais Shah twitched into action. Having dealt with Rajasthan Royals’ quicks in one net,Shah’s willow fluttered by his back as he prepared to take on the spinners in the next. Bhttp://admin.financialexpress.in/admin2/web/html/updateStory.php?contentId=1098347#iding their time at the mouth of the net-cave were six of them. Five — Brad Hogg,Ankeet Chavan,Harmeet Singh,Ashok Menaria and Kumar Bosera — spun the ball around their palms from left to right. One,Ajit Chandila,the other way around.

Here,of all rarities,the right-arm spinner was the rank minority.

Rewind a couple of seasons and things were a whole lot different. Had Shah been a part of Rajasthan’s set-up then,he would have prepped himself up to take on the leggies in Shane Warne and Abhishek Raut,the off-spinner in Johan Botha and just the two orthodoxes in Chavan and Menaria. But now,with the leggies out of service and members of their tribe rapidly decreasing,the team management seem to have found another way to unsettle the right-hand batsman.

By packing their can with left-arm spinning sardines,those that naturally bowl the away going ball to the right-hander.

First came orthodox Chavan. The big boy breezed in,pitching the ball on Shah’s middle stump and watching it briskly cut towards off. The batsman rocked back for the cut and missed. Shah cussed himself,but there were four more to get it right.

He wouldn’t when Harmeet saw-scaled in with slow,calculated steps. The divine flight had Shah thrusting his front foot ahead before instinctively receding back to stop the gentle turn from knocking over his off bail.

Now,the third left-arm spinner in Menaria booted into action. His arm ball was blocked as sweetly as the next orthodox,the talent-hunt winner Boresa’s away going ball,was punched back to the bowler. On cue,the wily Hogg dropped his tongue out.

Knees and elbows bent in similar angles,the 42-year old uncoiled his cocked left wrist with a furious tweak. Shah perhaps expected it to turn into him,considering Hogg is a chinaman after all. But it landed short of a length on Shah’s off,gripped the surface and held its line. The batsman opened up for the pull,but the top edge soared up against the rexined ceiling. And perhaps even into the invisible deep square-leg fielder’s clasp.

The sight of off-spinner Chandila at the end of the round must have made Shah sigh. For when the left-armers began their cycling again,a member of the Royals staff yelled: “C’mon Owais,it’s you versus the orthodox army.” Indeed,an army has been assembled.

“Most teams now have good left-arm spinners these days. It has just become so over time,” said captain Rahul Dravid. “We saw what Murali Kartik did for Bangalore yesterday. That’s the effect a good left-arm spinner can have.”

The Delhi Daredevils played six right-handers in their top-eight in the season opener on Wednesday. Considering they field the same set at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Saturday afternoon,Dravid has enough ammunition to trouble the hosts with. “We have Harmeet to back up Ankeet. Kumar is a new find and Hoggy can turn the ball both ways,” said Dravid.

It isn’t just the Royals who have endorsed this new trend. No IPL side worth its salt offers less than two left-armers who are sure to get a game in this season. Delhi themselves are armed with Shabaz Nadeem,Pawan Negi and have a back-up in South Africa’s Ghulam Bodi. Chennai have Ravindra Jadeja and Shadab Jakati. Punjab — Bipul Sharma and Bhargav Bhatt. Iqbal Abdulla and Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan in Kolkata. Murali Kartik,Kiwi Daniel Vettori and KP Appanna in Bangalore. Dot,dot and dot.

In fact,in this edition,there are a sum total of 24 genuine left-arm spinners plying their trade. Compare that with the 12 non-part-time off-spinners in the business and suddenly,Rajasthan’s Chandila is not so alone.

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