With the IPL nearing the halfway mark, fast bowlers have scored over spinners so far.
Mumbai Indians’ Jasprit Bumrah and Mitchell McClenaghan have shouldered the responsibility of Lasith Malinga’s absence well. Bumrah has bagged eight wickets while McClenaghan leads the chart with 11. However, seasoned off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is yet to fulfill the requirements of the third bowler. Last year, Harbhajan had bagged 18 wickets and was sixth in the top wicket-takers’ list. In 2013, he was third with 24 wickets.
It is not Harbhajan alone who is struggling to get wickets this season. Of the top-10 wicket-takers till date, M Ashwin of Pune Supergiants and Amit Mishra of Delhi Daredevils are the only two spinners in the list.
“As far as spinners are concerned, wrist spinners are preferred by captains because they have a lot of variation. However, the ICC has come down so strong on the bowling action of spinners that for a normal off-spinner, who has his variations, half those have gone out of the window. So if you are only going to bowl conventional off-spinners, it isn’t going to yield wickets,” said Maninder Singh, former Indian cricketer.
Former India seamer Ajit Agarkar had a different take. “Maybe, seamers have bowled better. They are obviously a lot more seamers than spinners and some of the grounds are so small that captains are reluctant to give the ball to a spinner. Today, batsmen are such good hitters of the ball that any connection and it is out of the ground,” said Agarkar.
The pitches haven’t been spinner friendly as well. “The wickets have been slow but I don’t think they have spun a great deal. With a seamer, you stand a chance because you get pace and the batsmen have less time to get under the ball. I am sure the spinners will leave a mark as the tournament progresses,” he added.
But what makes Ashwin and Mishra special? “They are leg-spinners. As I have maintained, they have more variation and talking about Mishra, he is using all his experience. Ashwin is new and sometimes when you are new, you do get wickets and after that people start reading you.” said Maninder.
Taking nothing away from the fast bowlers, they are keeping the batsmen guessing and varying their pace. “Fast bowlers are developing a lot of variation such as back-of-the-hand delivery, slower ones, among others, because to survive they will have to do all that,” said Maninder.
“Batsmen have become so skillful and powerful that bowlers have had to make innovations. In our part of the world, taking pace off the ball can help. You can take a look at Mustafizur Rahman, his slower balls are difficult to read.”