If dot balls are worth their weight in gold in cricket’s shortest format, then Indian bowlers are dealing in bullion. A Lasith Malinga is always considered tough to score off but out of nowhere Zaheer Khan showed this week how miserly he can be, bowling 19 dot balls in four overs against a champion side like Chennai Super Kings.
Six out of the top 10 bowlers to deliver the most dot balls in the current IPL edition are Indians. That number goes up to 12 if you take the top 20 into consideration. The list features the past, present and the future of Indian cricket. The toast of this season, Ashish Nehra, has not only taken 17 wickets but has also bowled 120 dot balls --- equivalent to 20 overs --- in 12 matches while his former India team mate Harbhajan Singh has not conceded a run off 86 balls across 11 matches.
The current India lot too has been stingy. Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma manage around eight dot balls per match while Bhuvneshwar Kumar has stolen the show averaging almost 10 per game. Yadav’s coach and former India pacer Subroto Banerjee says it is time the current pacers got it right. “It’s most difficult to bowl in T20 but pacers like Umesh have finally learnt it the hard way. Bhuvneshwar, I feel, has added pace. Apart from James Anderson, no one can swing the ball as much as Kumar in international cricket. We now have the penetration that could come in handy in the next World T20.”
A big reason behind these figures is how Yadav, Mohit and Kumar have bowled in the death overs. Wasim Akram’s mentorship is working wonders for Yadav, who lands those yorkers more regularly nowadays, but Kumar has been the most impressive.
Barring one match against UAE, where he just bowled five overs, Kumar sat out the entire World Cup. To come off that with 18 wickets (he is the second highest wickettaker) and stay miserly is commendable.
Start to finish
“A bowler who is as effective with the new ball as at the end of the innings is a great asset to any side. He is a real artist with the new ball and his discipline at the death has been second to none. He’s got his yorkers and the timing of his slower ball is very impressive,” said Sunrisers Hyderabad coach Tom Moody.
The list, quite surprisingly, is topped by Kings XI Punjab’s Sandeep Sharma, who has bowled an unbelievable 135 dot balls in 13 matches --- that is an average of more than 10 dot deliveries per match. CSK’s Ishwar Pandey averages over nine while Anureet Singh manages fewer than eight. Sandeep, Pandey and Anureet are yet to play for India. But Banerjee feels the selectors shouldn’t rush them. “IPL is an international level tournament, but I would prefer them to get more experience. But it’s true that like the present, the future too holds promise for India.”