When it comes to the sub-continent, spin starts to play on the minds of batsmen ahead of any fixture. For the World T20 in Bangladesh from March 16-April 6, the showing of the slow bowlers will play a pivotal role in deciding the fortunes of the teams.
Spin bowling has evolved in the course of T20’s growth. Line and length is tampered with to unsettle batsmen. Innovation in the form of mystery deliveries has crept into cricket folklore.
“In this format, and especially in sub-continent conditions, teams will depend on spinners to deliver crucial breakthroughs and also keep a control on the run flow,” said Venkatapathy Raju, former India spinner.
In such a scenario, the dry Bangladesh pitches bereft of grass would require employing at least two frontline spinners in the playing XI.
]The main task for these bowlers will be to lessen the threat posed by explosive batsmen like Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum and Shane Watson. In the 2012 edition of the tournament in Sri Lanka, it was the likes of Watson, Gayle and McCullum who tore into the opposition, making full use of batting-friendly conditions.
However, in the recent past, Gayle in particular has shown a degree of vulnerability against the turning ball. In the T20 clash between West Indies and England on Sunday, Gayle struggled to see off the gentle spin of James Tredwell, trapped leg before after struggling to put bat to ball.
In Bangladesh, it is this susceptibility that teams will look to capitalise through their spinners.
With most teams including as many as three spinners in their squads, it clearly shows teams realise it is the department that could prove to be the deciding factor in many contests.
However, other than the hard-hitting batsmen, spinners will also have to contend with the heavy dew that normally sets in during the night games in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.
With a majority of the games to be played under lights, including those at the business end of the tournament, focus would be on overcoming the dew factor. In the recently concluded Asia Cup, teams fielding second uniformly stated that the wet outfield hampered their bowlers as they struggled to grip the ball. In the crucial league game against Sri Lanka, stand-in skipper Virat Kohli was surprised with the amount of dew that fell on the field.
India lost the game as Sri Lanka chased down the 265-run target with four balls to spare.
This is where Asian teams could have an advantage, having got a good idea of the conditions in Mirpur in the just concluded Asia Cup. “The dew factor will make the spinners’ job tougher. The Kookaburra ball becomes like soap if it gets wet, and it becomes difficult to grip the ball,” said Maninder Singh, former India spinner.
“Bowlers should practice with a wet ball and use the crease and vary their angles when spinning becomes difficult due to dew,” he added. But the tweakers will not have to struggle as much if they are to bowl the initial overs.
“It will be easier to bowl with the new ball. The dew will slip off the shiny surface and it will be easier to grip the ball. If the spinner bowls early on in the innings, the side will employ an aggressive approach, which is ideal for T20. The top-order batsmen will not pick the speed of the ball and will try to put in more power into their strokes. That could work against them,” said Maninder.