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Left-arm tweakers: more the merrier

With four youngsters competing for a slot in the senior squad,Delhi looks to manage surplus talent.

Written by Siddhartha Sharma | New Delhi |
December 27, 2011 2:03:30 am

Though the seniors couldn’t make it past the group stage of their domestic engagement,the Delhi under-22 side’s progress in the CK Nayudu Trophy provided the silver lining. The juniors will take on Punjab in the finals starting January 3,and the thrust will be lent by the bunch of left-arm spinners they have at their disposal.

With Varun Sood and Manan Sharma holding their own in the under-22 team,others like Vikas Mishra and Pawan Negi have impressed on promotion to the senior squad too. After several seasons,Delhi now has a pool of left-arm tweakers to choose from.

Former India spinner Maninder Singh affirms that it will be a happy selection head ache,picking from the available talent,and doesn’t discount them on the basis of the similarity of their wares. “It is good to know that after a long time,there are quite a few left-arm spinners who possess the talent to play Ranji cricket. It is always better to have a healthy competition. The more the competition among bowlers of similar talent,better will be the output. The talent only gets polished in such a scenario while it enables the selectors to pick the right guy for the preferred format of the game.,” he says.

While Ranji regular Vikas Mishra has had a lean season,picking just 11 wickets in five matches,Varun Sood and Manan Sharma have had better luck,with the former scalping 21 wickets and the latter holding it on 18 in six games each. Youngster Pawan Negi,who was picked for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and later inducted in the Ranji side for the final two matches,finished with six wickets in four T20 matches.

Interestingly,two of the four tweakers are batting all-rounders,with Manan Sharma and Pawan providing the butting bulwark for their respective sides. Manan has scored 312 runs this year in the under-22 format,including a century. Negi’s strength might be the ability to contain with the ball,and is also considered a talent with the bat,though he hasn’t converted that to runs as yet. So the question arises,as to how these bowlers can be utilised best by the state.

Says Maninder Singh,“It is important to groom their talent. Usually,of ‘n’ number of spinners,a few rise and others are left behind. Camps for best bowlers and best batsmen should be organised frequently. These youngsters need to be guided well. It helps in sieving out appropriate bowlers for different formats. Put them in age group tournaments and they will keep rising because they all cannot be accomodated in one team.”

Currently,the pecking order is as follows. Vikas Mishra is preferred for the longer format,for his ability to bowl slow and up to the batsmen – the kind preferred by captains and coaches in Ranji games. Varun Sood,too bowls a lot in the days format,but his ability to buy wickets makes him a contender for limited overs cricket too. Manan Sharma has the added advantage of being a batsman while Pawan Negi draws attention with his tight line and his ability as a middle order bat.

“I am following all these spinners for some time now and would say that all of them have the ability to don the Ranji cap. Despite their brilliance,one cannot experiment a lot. If Vikas Mishra is not available due to his U-19 national team commitments,the selectors are equipped with spinners like Varun Sood who has taken his tally of wickets to 50 in two seasons. Manan Sharma can provide a double edge. The selectors,since they now have options,should play them in both formats to sort them better,” explains Kartar Nath,another former left-arm spinner from Delhi.

With the emphasis on variety,it has become rare to spot two left-armers in the eleven. Coach Amit Bhandari says playing two similar bowlers is a tough call,but one he is happy to make. “It depends on what works for the team. A large part of our success is due to both (Sood and Sharma) of them. And Manan is more of a batsman and Varun is more of a bowler. Their roles are different yet the same. But yes,if it is any other team,a coach may not include two left-armers just to have more variety. But I am happy with how the U-22 team is shaping up and I hope we win the CK Nayudu Trophy.” he says.

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