IPL 2021: From Rashid Khan to Varun Chakravarthy - 5 spinners to watch out for
- IPL 2021: Spinners tend to go for runs in T2OIs, especially leg spinners, but that also provides them with a greater opportunity to take wickets. More often than not, spinners are brought on with the field spread to make inroads and at times stem the run-flow.
The Indian Premier League is back home with IPL 2021. The 2020 season took place in the UAE in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The strips in the Gulf country did provide some assistance to spinners. However, with IPL making a comeback to Indian pitches, expect the spinners to go hard at the batsmen with all guns blazing.
Spinners tend to go for runs in T2OIs, especially leg spinners, but that also provides them with a greater opportunity to take wickets. More often than not, spinners are brought on with the field spread to make inroads and at times stem the run-flow.
South Africa bowling great Shaun Pollock once said that "a dot ball in Twenty20 cricket is like gold". Well, expect a lot of those in the upcoming 14th edition of the annual tournament.
Before they spin their web, deceive the batsmen with variations, let's glance through some of the spinners to watch out for in IPL 2021:
Rahul Chahar: The leg-spinner's return to the Indian T20I squad--during the India vs England series--bears testament to his rise and improvement. Rahul Chahar has been a key member of Mumbai Indians' spin department since the 2019 season. Last year during IPL 2020 in the UAE, Chahar made great use of the conditions and picked 15 wickets in as many matches. He stemmed the run-flow in the middle overs and provided his side with crucial breakthroughs. In 2019, he bagged 13 wickets. Overall, Chahar has 30 wickets to his name after 31 IPL matches. He comes into this tournament high on confidence from an impressive Vijay Hazare Trophy, where he took 11 wickets in 5 matches. He is one of the finds of the IPL and the defending champions will continue to bank on his exploits to earn another record-breaking feat.
Rashid Khan: You know you are a very, very good bowler if batsmen give you respect in a T20 game. Afghanistan's Rashid Khan, without a shred of a doubt, is one of the most dangerous bowlers in the Indian Premier League currently. The Sunrisers Hyderabad spinner, since his debut IPL season in 2017, Rashid has impressed one and all with his mastery, deception, variations. In the last season, he was the sixth-highest wicket-taker with 20 wickets in 16 matches, including the best bowling spell of 3/7. He was the second-most successful spinner in the edition, one behind Yuzvendra Chahal. With IPL returning to India, Rashid Khan is expected to be his at economical best. In 62 IPL matches, he has pocketed 75 wickets at a stellar economy rate of 6.24. Last year, he went for less than six an over (5.37).
Yuzvendra Chahal: There is no way one can talk about spinners in the IPL without mentioning Royal Challengers Bangalore's Yuzvendra Chahal. The leg-spinner, heading into his 9th season, has almost become a veteran of sorts. With 121 IPL career wickets in 99 games, Chahal is placed ninth in the all-time highest wicket-takers list. He was the best spinner in the previous edition with 21 wickets in 15 matches with a healthy economy rate of 7.08. He finished as the franchise's most successful bowler in 2019, picking 18 wickets in 14 games. To put his consistency into context, the Indian spinner has not finished lower than 2nd in the wickets tally for RCB since 2015. Even though he had a subdued T20I series against England and didn't get picked for the ODIs, he continues to remain an extremely crucial member of the side.
R. Ashwin: What a past few months this man is having. A breakthrough of sorts tour of Australia where he played a memorable innings alongside Hanuma Vihari to save the Sydney Test. Back home against England, he was taking five-wicket hauls at will to go with another Test century on home ground in Chennai. Delhi Capitals' R. Ashwin is likely to lead the spin attack of the franchise. He will have Axar Patel for company, who is currently on cloud nine after a dream debut series against England. Another bowler who picked up five-wicket hauls at will. Ashwin recently stated his desire to play white-ball cricket for India. While many pundits and former players have reduced him to a Test specialist, Ashwin's skills are still as good as any when it comes to limited-overs cricket. Last season, despite sitting out a few games due to a shoulder injury, he returned with 14 wickets from 15 matches. In the 11 seasons he has played so far, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder has bagged 138 wickets in 154 matches. He is currently the sixth-highest wicket-taker in the league's history.
Varun Chakravarthy: Due to outstanding figures of 17 wickets in 13 matches during his first full-fledged IPL season in UAE, the Tamil Nadu leg spinner Varun Chakravarthy became an essential part of the team. He has several variations up his sleeve and was picked up by the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2020 to beef up their spin bowling department and he delivered. This earned him his maiden India call-up for the Australian Tour but he missed out due to an injury. Earlier this year, he was picked for the T20I series against England but he didn’t make the cut eventually as he failed to clear the fitness test multiple times. This decision sparked a raging debate on social media, with former cricketers and pundits criticizing the management for being too strict. Varun has a chance to force the issue by having an even better IPL. With greater assistance from Indian pitches, the sky is the limit for Varun.