World T20 2014: The phenomena called spin
Updated - Apr 1, 2014 8:42 am
“Saeed Ajmal to Mitchell Johnson: 1 run. Michael Hussey on strike. Ajmal to Hussey: 6, 6, 4, 6”, this match would be fresh in the mind of every cricket fanatic. Needing 18 off the last over in the 2nd semi- final of the ICC T20 WC 2010 between Pakistan and Australia, Michael Hussey simply demolished Pakistan’s chances of playing their 3rd consecutive T20 World Cup final. And the spin magician Ajmal was at the receiving end. Just like Stuart Broad in the T20 WC’07, Ajmal had become a criminal in just an over. The captain received criticism for using a spinner in the final over of the innings.
Spin bowling was considered a taboo in the shortest format of the game when it started. Everyone had ruled out their chances of making a mark in this format. With most of the batsmen looking to hit every ball out of the stadium, the perception did not seem quite wrong. It was indeed the seamers who transpired into heroes in the initial twenty20 world cups. Although spinners were considered to be wicket-takers here, this format exposed the cruelty with which the batsman took advantage of the slow bowlers. While wickets were coming for them, the economy rates of spinners were exceedingly high.
Twenty20, considered by many as the format for the brave, spinners too started experimenting. First with line and length, then with various variations and slowly with flight, they started fooling batsmen like never before. Since the batsmen had to hit every over, the spinners became a necessity for every team. If the pitch offered a bit of spin, the spinners became deadlier than the russel viper. This T20 World Cup in Bangladesh though has been a revelation for quality spin bowlers.
India’s exceptional performances on the field have been a result of the unbelievably great bowling by its spinners. The spin trios of Ashwin, Jadeja and the leggie Amit Mishra have taken a total of 22 wickets between them in 4 innings at an out-of-the-world average of 14.46. What has also been phenomenal is the performances of spinners like Rangana Herath and Nathan McCullum who are not even considered among the regular spinners for their respective teams. Saeed Ajmal and Sunil Narine, the two mystery spinners of world cricket have been consistent as always. Spinners who have taken brave decisions have prospered in both restricting the run flow as well as the confidence of their captains while needing breakthroughs.
As the t20 world cup 2014 comes to its business end, spinners would again be expected to do the honours in the semis and the final. The 2nd semi-final, now almost a surety between the Proteas and India, it will be important for India to use their spinners well enough against the South African middle-order including Ab de Villiers and Francois du Plessis to avoid a destruction. South Africa might actually struggle due to the lack of good enough spinners in the South African team. Whatsoever might be the end result of this tournament, this will be remembered for quite some time for helping invent the phenomena called spin in the format that considered it a taboo.