One of the mysteries of ODI cricket is why Ramesh Powar does not get too many chances to showcase his wares. But against England, the portly Mumbaikar has again gone on to prove that his repeated successes are no flash in the pan.
After being overlooked in favour of Piyush Chawla for the first ODI, Powar, thanks to Dravid's five bowler policy, got an opportunity and hit back with a bang. It was indeed a tremendous display in the two ODIs, which fetched him three wickets at a remarkable economy of 4.4 when most others were too generous with runs. Unsurprisingly, it was only a reaffirmation of his good work over the last few series, where consistency has take precedence over flamboyance.
In fact, if a spinner is to be judged purely in terms of economy, then Powar has been more than a handful for the opposition. It is remarkable that out of 23 times that he has bowled in ODIs, only twice has he been hit for more than six runs per over. Very few spinners can boast of such run-sucking display.
Powar's Economical show in ODIs
But even in these two matches, Powar compensated adequately with vital wickets. Against Pakistan in DLF Cup, Powar did concede 61 runs but getting the important wickets of Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Yousuf ensured that Pakistan missed the target of 270 by a good 51 runs.
Powar again took two wickets in a lost cause at Port of Spain, showing his skill-to-kill even as he conceded 56 runs off his nine overs. With West Indies set a target of just 218 to win, an attack on spinners was inevitable.
Superb Show in England
In the five matches that Powar has played on this tour, he is yet to concede more than five runs per over in an innings. And four of these matches have been against South Africa or England.
Of the 49 ODI overs that he has bowled on this tour, Powar has conceded just 214 runs at an excellent rate of 4.37 per over. With just four wickets in his kitty, the average per wicket has been on the higher side, but Powar is good enough to get it back on track as he showed in last two ODIs.
The best thing about this Mumbai talent is that he is always ready to learn. In the match at Bristol, Powar bowled little short, directing his deliveries at off and middle. It allowed the England batsmen to score off him with the spin. Most of the runs came from the Mid-wicket and Square-leg areas with these two regions accounting for 29 runs of 43 (67.4%).
Wiser, in the 3rd match, Powar tried to scuttle England's on-side play with deliveries landing outside off and succeeded. Just 14 runs out of 45 were scored of Square-leg and Mid-Wicket areas and batsmen had to play against the spin most of the time.
So while the economy was somewhat same, an intelligent attempt was made to change the line and bring in more variation. That is Powar for you!
Another striking ability of Powar is his craft of delivering dot balls. In both the matches against England, Powar delivered 33 dot balls each (55 per cent of total legitimate deliveries) which is exceptional considering he gets to bowl in the middle overs where field is spread out and singles are for the taking.
So England will be looking to sort out Powar in the remaining matches. After all, he was one of the match winners in the series against England in 2006 with a rich haul of seven wickets at an exceptional 4.23 runs per over. With some fielding support, he is good enough to repeat such shows in the remaining matches.