To categorise Akila Dananjaya as an off-spinner is grossly devaluing his craft. Rather call him an off-spinner who rips in googlies. Sounds contradictory, for the direction of the ball is the same, but Dananjaya’s art is a contradiction in itself. The conventional off-break is propelled off his fingers, with a little more wrists involved than conventional offies. The googly is furled in like a standard leg-spinner, the ball flipping off his wrists.
While a batsman can decode his leg-breaks and off-breaks by watching the wrists, he adeptly disguises the googlies, fooling the batsman fatally into thinking that it would be his leg break. That’s not all, he has a carrom ball and slider too. He didn’t unfurl his entire repertoire, but the googly was enough to perplex the Indian batsmen. The over he cleaned up Jadhav, Kohli and Rahul perfectly captures the crux of his bowling.
Ball 1: Kedhar Jadhav thinks it’s a leg break (or should we call it a doosra?), and shapes for the drive, but instead it spins back into him after landing and strolls through the huge space between the bat and pad. Surprisingly, he obtains more turn with googlies than the off-breaks.
Ball 2: A rank loose ball on the legside, which Virat Kohli glides past the fine leg for a boundary. Like most young spinners with variations, he can be a little loose at times. Or maybe, it was just to make Kohli feel cosy.
Ball 3: Like Jadhav, Kohli reckons it’s the away-spinning delivery, propelled from the back of his wrists. He ventures for his trademark cover drive. He doesn’t reach to the pitch of the ball, even if he doesn’t the whippy wrists mostly navigate the ball through the desired space. But not this time. He was first beaten in the flight, and then by the turn. The ball spun back wickedly to graze his bat onto the stumps. While Kohli can, at times, be a little loose outside the stump early on in his innings, seldom does the ball threaten his inside edge.
Ball 4: MS Dhoni reaches to the pitch of the ball, and bunts into cover. The ball was well flighted and a little too full, but Dhoni’s discretion was supreme and he smothered the spin.
Ball 5: He made quick amends and pulled back the length by a fraction. Rahul lunges forward and goes through with the shot, despite not reaching to the pitch of the ball. The ball beats him in the air before it veers back sharply to hit his pad and then the stumps.
Ball 6: This one was the slider, pushed in a little faster, which Hardik hangs back and defends. He, though, consumes Pandya in the next over with another vicious googly.
13: All Akila Dananjaya took to whittle out his maiden five-for is 13 balls, which is the fourth fastest to a five-for this century. Only Mohammad Sami, Zahooor Khan and Morne Morkel have done it faster.
2: Only two spinners have enjoyed better figures than him against India, both his compatriots–Muttiah Muralitharan ( 7/30 in Sharjah) and Ajantha Mendis (6/13 in Karachi).