Traditional finger spinners, it was felt, didn’t have much to offer in T20 cricket. Batsmen could simply line up the trajectory of the ball and slog sweep or play through the line.
And for many years, it became the guiding principal for many teams as wrist spinners became the main slow bowlers in white ball cricket and plain old off-spinners and left-arm spinners started to get pushed to the sidelines.
But the ongoing edition of the IPL has witnessed a resurgence of the finger spinners with those type of bowlers not only picking up wickets but also maintaining a superb economy rate.
The slow nature of some wickets have contributed in some good numbers for spinners but credit must be given to finger spinners for keeping themselves relevant in the cut-throat world of T20 cricket.
Here were take a look at four such bowlers.
HARBHAJAN SINGH (CSK)
Matches: 3, Overs: 12, Wickets: 5, Economy: 5.5
The Chennai off-spinner has enjoyed the sluggish surface of Chepauk, getting good purchase off the surface to help the Super Kings make a strong start to the campaign. The off-spinner has bowled at the perfect pace which has stopped batsmen like Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle from going after him. Two man-of-the-match performances in three games, including a double wicket maiden against Kings XI Punjab.
MOHAMMAD NABI (SRH)
Matches: 3, Overs: 12, Wickets: 7, Economy: 3.75
The Sunrisers Hyderabad all-rounder has been so good he has kept a veteran like Shakib Al Hasan out of the Playing XI. His nagging off-spinners have accounted for seven wickets in three games, including a devastating 4-11 on a good Hyderabad pitch against RCB. The Afghan all-rounder has been used up front by Sunrisers, which makes his economy of 3.75 even more remarkable. Plus, has bowled twice on a decent batting surface in Hyderabad, which means he can be even more devastating on a truly helpful pitch.
RAVI ASHWIN (KXIP)
Matches: 5, Overs: 20, Wickets: 6, Economy: 7.3
The Kings XI Punjab skipper doesn’t have many fans outside India at the moment after his ‘Mankading’ of Rajasthan Royals batsman Jos Buttler, but his bowling deserves praise. The off-spinner was the first to talk about the relevance of finger spinners in the T20 game and has put in performances to back his claim. Had one bad game against Kolkata and has conceded less than 30 three times.
Matches: 5, Overs: 16, Wickets: 4, Economy: 5.9
The Chennai left-arm spinner is a favourite of captains in any limited overs format as his tight lines and rocket arm from the deep make him a highly valuable asset. This year, Jadeja has kept it quiet and has been crucial in skipper MS Dhoni’s spin-based attack.
The left-arm spinner has already found favour in the national team where he is deemed to be good enough in the squad just for his fielding. Bound to put in a crucial batting performance at some point.
The 20-year-old caught the attention of IPL franchises after his excellent displays for England in the Test series against India last year and has wasted no time in making his impact in the T20 league.
Curran was expensive on his IPL debut against Rajasthan Royals where he conceded 52 runs but he finished his spell strongly to pick up two wickets in his side’s win. In the next match, the youngster picked up a sensational hat-trick against Delhi Capitals to lead Punjab to the most dramatic of wins.
“The crowds are huge and that is something I expected coming into the tournament,” Curran told CricketNext.
“The standard of cricket is extremely high and playing with some of the world’s best players. I am really enjoying playing at the moment and just taking it one day at a time.
“Learning to play in front of such big crowds is important. The surfaces have also varied in different parts. It’s my first time playing in India so the heat and humidity has been a challenge but I hope to pick a few things from all these great players and hopefully take something back for the English season.”
Curran and Kings XI have made a strong start to the season although they were handed a 22-run defeat by Chennai Super Kings on Saturday. The franchise has so far won three of their five clashes and will next be in action on Monday when they play host to Sunrisers Hyderabad at Mohali.
Mumbai Indians pulled off a remarkable 40-run win against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday with Caribbean duo Alzarri Joseph and Kieron Pollard turning out to be heroes with ball and bat.
Mumbai seemed to have finished well below par in Hyderabad with only Pollard’s 26-ball 46 taking them to a respectable total of 136-7.
However, that turned out to be more than enough on a helpful track as West Indies pacer Joseph – playing his first IPL game – tore through the Sunrisers line-up by picking up 6-12. It was the best bowling performance in IPL history, bettering Pakistan pacer Sohail Tanvir’s 6-14 in the 2008 season.
Sunrisers were bowled out for just 96 as Mumbai romped to a massive win.
MUMBAI STRUGGLE FOR TIMING
The slowish nature of the Uppal pitch on Saturday saw Mumbai batsmen struggle to get their timing right. Skipper Bhuvneshwar Kumar got the ball to move around while off-spinner Mohammad Nabi got into the act once again to be among the wickets.
Captain Rohit Sharma was given a reprieve early on with seamer Siddarth Kaul dropping a sitter at third man in the first over itself. But that didn’t cost the hosts much as Nabi had Rohit caught a mid-wicket a couple of overs later. Runs were hard to come by as Mumbai screeched to 52-3 after 10 overs, well behind the eight ball.
NABI AND RASHID SHOW
Sunrisers held their ace bowler – Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan – back for the slog overs and pushed Nabi to bowl the power play overs. That worked out perfectly as Nabi ended up conceding just 13 runs from his four overs.
Rashid was pressed into action from the 10th over when Pollard and later Hardik Pandya came to the crease. With four overs to go, Mumbai were struggling at 80-5 and Hardik tried to get a move on, depositing Rashid over long on before getting caught at midwicket going for an encore.
POLLARD MAKES SUNRISERS PAY
Rashid dropped a sitter of Pollard at cover with the batsman on eight of 12 balls. That drop ended up hurting the hosts. The Trinidadian hit seamer Kaul for three sixes in the penultimate over before clobbering Bhuvneshwar for two fours and six. A dropped chance by Nabi at square leg in the final over that went for a six and a misfield by Deepak Hooda at long on that resulted in a four gave Mumbai momentum right at the end.
In all, Pollard smashed four sixes and two fours in his 26-ball 46. In the context of a low scoring game, it was a match-winning effort.
MUMBAI TURN UP THE HEAT
Sunrisers have relied heavily on openers David Warner and Jonny Bairstow to do the bulk of the scoring. That has meant their middle order hasn’t been tested. On a pitch that had a bit in it for seamers and spinners, Mumbai struck early with leg-spinner Rahul Chahar getting Bairstow to mis-hit a slog to short third man before new recruit Joseph struck first ball- castling David Warner.
When Vijay Shankar miscued Joseph to point, Sunrisers were 42-3.
JOSEPH TAKES CENTRESTAGE
Even so, Sunrisers were in with a chance at 84-5 needing 53 from 30 balls. But Rohit brought Joseph back into the attack with an older ball and the Antiguan got the ball to curve in a mile.
Hooda lost his middle stump trying to launch Joseph. Next ball, Rashid tried to attack a short ball from the lanky quick but could only offer a simple return catch. Captain Bhuvneshwar also lost his middle stump to a sharp in-coming delivery from Joseph before last man Kaul edged an away going ball to the keeper. The 22-year-old ended up with the best figures in IPL history, and that too on debut.