The leg-spinners have been humming in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League. In a format designed for the big hits, this seemingly vulnerable tribe has once again held its own.
No one typifies the success of leg-spinners better than the 42-year-old Pravin Tambe — age is no barrier really — for Rajasthan Royals. He has 15 scalps in 11 matches at 19.66.
The Hindu caught up with V.V. Kumar, among the finest leg-spin bowlers produced by the country, to seek his views on the subject. “The leg-spinners with guile and variety will do better in Twenty20 cricket than off-spinners and left-arm spinners. They have the leg-spinner, the googly and several other deliveries. They have a lot more to offer,” he said.
“I was pleased with the way Tambe got the left-handed David Warner, a destructive batsman, with a googly,” Kumar added. Indeed, a leg-spinner with a potent wrong ‘un can be effective against the southpaws as well. Apart from Tambe, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Yuzvendra Chahal has caught the attention with 12 wickets in 10 games at 21.08.
With 12 strikes in 10 matches at 21.08, Kolkata Knight Riders’ Piyush Chawla has struck some telling blows. And despite coming under some punishment, Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Amit Mishra has whipped up moments of genuine quality.
Kumar believed Mishra was the best among the four.
“Mishra top-spins the ball unlike someone like Chawla who side spins it. When the top-spun ball travels in the atmosphere, the air is displaced and the ball tends to land earlier than anticipated by the batsman. This is where the batsman is deceived in flight. This is also called the Magnus Effect, when the ball dips.”
The former India leg-spinner said a leg-spinner had to first perfect his stock delivery. “Guile and variety will come only when you have the stock ball and rhythm.”
“Rhythm’, Kumar explained was “run-up, transit position, delivery stride and release.” Crucially, the stride should enable a leg-spinner transfer weight to the front foot.
The ideal combination was, “rhythm, top-spin and Magnus Effect, resulting in the batsman being beaten in the air,” Kumar emphasised.
Chawla, he pointed out, was more of a side-spin bowler because his strides were longer. “He cannot correct himself at the delivery stride. Longer strides reduce your height at the point of release. The action becomes rather round-armish since the bowler is unable to pivot effectively.”
It was here that Mishra held the edge, Kumar felt.
“When you top-spin the ball imparting revolutions, you get kick, turn and bounce.”
Tambe and Chahal too, Kumar stressed, needed to top spin the ball more.
In any form of the game, attacking leg-spinners are a greater threat.