Amit Mishra adds to leg-spinners' spell in IPL 2021
- On Tuesday, veteran Amit Mishra turned the clock back with a spectacular show against Mumbai Indians. Then, in the second half of the game at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chahar, gave a masterful display despite bowling with a slippery ball due to excessive dew.
Seen as lethal attacking options, leg-spinners are a prized commodity in the Indian Premier League. The likes of Yuzvendra Chahal, of Royal Challengers Bangalore, are yet to warm-up this season, and Chennai Super Kings’s ace Imran Tahir still awaits a game. Yet, there has been enough quality bowling in the early rounds to keep connoisseurs of leg-spin bowling excited.
Leading the tribe is the irrepressible Rashid Khan of Sunrisers Hyderabad while it’s been a joy to watch Rahul Chahar leading the Mumbai Indians’ attack. On Tuesday, veteran Amit Mishra turned the clock back with a spectacular show against Mumbai Indians. Then, in the second half of the game at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chahar, gave a masterful display despite bowling with a slippery ball due to excessive dew.
In this season's first afternoon game played on Sunday, Kolkata Knight Riders’ mystery leg-spinner Varun Chakaravarthy turned the spotlight on himself with the wicket of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Virat Kohli in his opening over.
Everyone plays with extra respect when the name is Rashid Khan. The idea is to play him out and look to attack his teammates. It reduces his wicket-taking option. But Rashid knows how to adapt. Maintaining consistency, he is the stingiest bowler in the tournament with an economy rate of 5.33 after three matches.
In the first game when KKR batsmen went hard at the Orange Army on way to scoring 187 for six, Rashid returned 4-0-24-2 with the wickets of Shubman Gill and Andrew Russell; against RCB he improved to 4-0-18-2 while inflicting on AB de Villiers his only failure in the tournament. Mumbai Indians’ batsmen wisely chose to bat him out, keeping him at bay at 4-0-22-0.
Though the results have gone against Sunrisers Hyderabad, it is due to their middle order being unable to complement the good work being done by the bowlers. Rashid has a better strike rate and economy than his overall IPL career figures and individually in any of his earlier four seasons, starting in 2017. It has to do with the Chennai track, which is tailor-made for spinners. A quality operator becomes even more dangerous. SRH play five games there, with two more to go.
WATCH | Mishra, Dhawan star in Delhi Capitals’ six-wicket win over MI
After his spell against RCB on April 14, Rashid said: “As a spinner you love such tracks, it’s a bit slow, bit bouncy, I love to bowl here. On such pitches you have to be very accurate with your line and adjust your length. It’s a kind of wicket on which you can’t bowl fuller; it’s a wicket where if you bowl back of a length, it is good for the spinner.”
If Rashid is the most economical bowler in the history of the tournament, Amit Mishra is the all-time second highest wicket-taker. On Tuesday, he showcased that with an incredible spell. Mishra had missed the previous two games and when the camera zoomed in on the Delhi Capitals dugout in their last game at Wankhede, the quiet confidence stood out. From there on, Delhi Capitals were shifting base to Chennai, where Mishra knew he would be the first name on the team sheet on the slow, spin-friendly wicket. DC’s call to bring back Mishra into the playing XI against Mumbai Indians proved right. The Haryana player returned four for 24 in his four overs, helping DC restrict MI to 137/8. He first picked the prized wicket of MI skipper Rohit Sharma in the ninth over, dismissing him for 44. In the same over, Mishra sent back Hardik Pandya for a duck. He returned in the 12th over to send back Kieron Pollard for two runs with a googly and then got rid of Ishan Kishan in the 18th over.
“My bowling style is giving air, and getting the ball to dip. I always try to get wickets with variation of speed. Doing that for the last 14 years, I don’t want to change much, but I always try to understand the wicket and bowl accordingly. Players like Rohit and Pollard are match-winners and I like to go for wickets. I think of what kind of delivery and variation I can bowl,” Mishra said at the post-match presentation after being named the Man-of- the-Match.
“I always think about the wickets. (The ball) was holding a little bit there, (I was) just trying to bowl in the right areas. I feel whenever you bowl in T20s, you just take wickets, then you put the opposition team under pressure," he said at the innings interval. “I never change my bowling, I try to bowl to my strengths. I always think about variations.”
In 2020, Rahul Chahar had 15 wickets in 15 matches; in 2019, 13 in 13. In 2021, the MI leggie already has eight wickets in four matches. Chahar achieved his career-best figures of IPL against KKR when he got four for 27 in a low-scoring thriller.
In the game against Capitals, there was heavy dew when Chahar was bowling in the middle overs. At the start of the 15th over, the set Shikhar Dhawan took him for two boundary hits. Chahar had the last laugh when he had him caught in the deep. Capitals, but Chahar showed he can be a force even in difficult conditions with figures of 4-0-29-1.
“Rahul's a wicket-taking bowler. His role is to come into the middle and spin the ball and create some pressure and take wickets. That is the role we look to make him do," said Mumbai Indians' bowling coach Shane Bond during this tournament.
Another leg-spinner eagerly awaiting his turn is Imran Tahir. The last time IPL was held in India, the Chennai Super Kings’ bowler was the highest wicket-taker with 26. From April 28, when the IPL caravan moves to Delhi, he could be in the mix. If he makes the playing XI, the two top exponents of leg-spin will go head-to-head -- SRH’s Rashid Khan and CSK’s Imran Tahir.