Updated: April 14, 2021 7:28:18 am
In a high-scoring Indian Premier League (IPL) thriller the other day, Rajasthan Royals’ part-time spinner Riyan Parag delivered a ball with such a low-slung side-arm action that it almost bordered on being called illegal. He didn’t bend the elbow nor flip it underarm and thus didn’t break any cricketing law, but he did push the envelope. In the past, more famous spinners like R Ashwin and Kedar Jadhav have been quite successful in peddling this variety but Parag’s ball touched a new low, triggering a debate about the need to tweak the law to keep the bowlers sufficiently upright.
Like Mankading, for instance, it’s a perfectly legitimate way of getting a batsman out. But whether it is sportsman-like is bound to debates. In the ultra-competitive, cut-throat atmosphere of IPL, bowlers and fielders are always looking to harness some advantage or the other, stretch the limits of legality. Though the umpires are in place to ensure that players play by the book, are they sufficiently equipped to judge if the bowler is bowling side-arm or under-arm? It is this ambiguity that can see other bowlers follow in Parag’s footsteps — low-slung action could even turn out to be the flavour of the season.
The bowler, least of all a part-timer, could be empathised with for exploiting the loophole. The strip at Wankhede was a shirtfront, the batsmen were going hammer and tongs, nearly 450 runs were scored in 40 overs. As many as 24 sixes and 40 fours were struck. Parag was bowling to Chris Gayle, the Boss of T20, who has struck more sixes in this format than any other cricketer. And so he resorted to the most side-arm, most low-slung but legal delivery in the history of IPL. With bats becoming broader with every season and even boundaries getting pushed in, the bowlers are finding it tough to stay relevant. They are constantly experimenting, trying out something new, dangerous or even dubious.
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