S. Dinakar

  • A wrist spinner can cope better with a wet ball under the lights
  • The off-spinners have succeeded with the `doosra'

    The white ball has altered the dynamics of the game. It has also made life harder for spinners in one-dayers. Add to this, the hurdles faced by the spinners under lights when the evening dew makes it trying for them to grip the ball, and these men are really up against it.

    The white ball absorbs moisture faster, and does tend to feel heavier in the hand. "It feels like a bar of soap," is the common refrain by most spinners.

    There is also a point of view that a wrist spinner can cope better with a wet ball under the lights than a finger spinner, who will find it much more difficult to give it a rip. The argument is not without logic.

    One of the greatest spells in the World Cup was leg-spinner Shane Warne's four for 36 in the '96 semifinal at Mohali. Why was it so?

    Warne was bowling under the lights at a venue known for excessive evening dew.

    Great control

    The leg-spinner operated with great control with a wet ball at the death, brought his variations to the fore, and pressure mounted on the West Indians. Ritchie Richardson and his men, coasting along till that stage, crumbled.

    Warne, intelligently, sent down flippers; this delivery does tend to skid through on a moisture-laden pitch. He and Australia won.

    Spinners, against the odds, can be winners in one-day cricket.

    Mushtaq's ambush

    Four years earlier, Mushtaq Ahmed ambushed England under the lights in the final at the MCG; the bigger grounds down under also helped his cause. The Pakistani too was a wrist spinner.

    Now, Mushtaq was different from Warne in the sense that the googly and not the leg-spinner, was his stock ball. There is a theory that he relied more on the googly since the ball turning into the right hander is harder to score off in limited overs cricket.

    However, the logic behind this ploy has been contested. The pacemen may not have a slip in place after the initial overs, but the spinners do have the wicket-keeper standing up to effect a stumping.

    The off-spinners have succeeded with the `doosra', the ball spinning away. Indeed, Muttiah Muralitharan has been a major factor in the Sri Lankan campaigns.

    The left-handers, in general, pose a greater threat for the spinners. The southpaws can strike the left-armers and the leg-spinners with the spin, and an off-spinner can be taken for runs square or behind the wicket. The left-handers, with deft footwork, can upset a spinner's gameplan in the middle-overs.

    The challenge for a spinner is to force the batsman into a mistake and not allow him to milk the bowling with strokes to the long-off and the long-on. Once he gets the batsman to open the face of the blade, the spinner has a chance. He has to mix his length.

    Power Play

    The game has been evolving and the introduction of the Power Play overs has impacted the role of the spinners; teams are increasingly picking a lone spinner instead of two.

    There are captains who believe it is not the easiest of tasks to manage the overs with two spinners operating in a game where the field restriction could stretch to 20 overs.

    Yet, spinners are at their best when used as an attacking option, during any stage of the game. They also require the support of the captain. An Imran Khan backing Abdul Qadir or an Arjuna Ranatunga standing by Muralitharan are prime examples.

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