CHENNAI: The Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy is over. The buzz now shifts to the IPL auction, which is less than three weeks away. In the past few auctions when it came to bowlers, wrist spinners and ‘mystery’ spinners had been the sought-after commodities. They were the ones who got some astonishing offers as well.
The likes of Varun Chakravarthy (Rs 8.4 crore, 2019), KC Cariappa (Rs 2.4 crore, 2015), Afghanistan’s Mujeeb ur Rahman (Rs 4 crore, 2017) or Murugan Ashwin (Rs 4.5 crore, 2016) are some of the spinners, who attracted huge sums. It showed the desperation of the franchises to buy these types of spinners. In the craze to go for these bowlers, finger spinners were pushed to the background. Not that off-spinners or those bowling left-arm orthodox were not picked, but they were far behind in demand.
This year’s Mushtaq Ali competition may have seen a departure from this trend. Topping the list of wicket-takers is Tamil Nadu’s left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore. There are two more of his ilk in the top 10. They took wickets, slowed things down and ticked right boxes. Another from Tamil Nadu, newcomer M Siddharth, was also impressive. Both Kishore and Siddharth finished the tournament with economy rates of less than five.
At the IPL auctions in Kolkata on December 19, there will be a total of 73 slots available, including 29 overseas players. It won’t come as a surprise if the franchises open their money bags for the left-arm spinners who did well in Mushtaq Ali.
Kishore, who had been with the Tamil Nadu side for three years and played for them occasionally, rose to prominence this season. The 23-year-old says he made minor tweaks to stay relevant in the shortest format. One among them is varying the speed to keep batsmen guessing.
“Earlier, I bowled at two speeds,” he explains. “Now I can spin the ball in four different speeds. It’s a small thing, but made an impact. If a batsman expects a ball at 100kmph and it comes at 75kmph and the next one at 85kmph, it won’t be easy (to negotiate).”
In a format where the batsmen slog most of the time, bowlers have to think on their feet and make adjustments. Especially for spinners, becoming predictable can be disastrous. Kishore says for him it has been about varying the flight he imparts and hitting the right length.
“Sometimes with the white ball, we don’t give it that much air. Even if you spin the ball, it has to be a flat delivery. I’s not easy to induce the batsmen (to hit false shots). With the red ball, you can do that. T20s are more about the length. We need to keep hitting the right length consistently in order to be effective. We have only a limited number of balls to send down, and hence, we look to take wickets every three or four balls in an over.”
In the melee of leg-spinners in IPL, left-arm spinners were mostly taken to fill up the numbers. Their resurgence in Mushtaq Ali promises a turnaround. Let time tell if they make an impact at the auctions.
Back to orthodox ways
3 Left-arm spinners in top-10 (Sai Kishore, Satyajeet Bachav & Harpreet Brar), compared to one leggie (Shreyas Gopal).
Tamil Nadu’s R Sai Kishore opened the bowling many times and finished as the highest wicket-taker with 20 and a phenomenal economy rate of 4.63. He is the only spinner among the top-10 wicket-takers of this edition to go at less than a run-a-ball per over. M Siddharth too excelled with the ball, taking 12 wickets at an economy of 4.94. Both bowled inside the power play.