5 Indian Spin Prodigies who failed to fulfil their potential
There is nothing more heart-wrenching in cricket than the sight of a spectacular talent gone to waste. Here’s a list of five extremely promising spinners who failed to live up to the massive expectations heaped on them:
Known for his ability to extract extra bounce from the wicket, this 28-year old leggie from Jalandhar was touted to be the next big thing in Indian cricket but it has all been downhill for him after he was detained by Mumbai police from a rave party in Juhu back in 2012. Rahul Sharma has played a total of 22 first class matches for Punjab where he has picked 42 wickets at an economy of 3.43 with one 4w and one 5w haul to his name.
Sharma was soon rewarded for some disciplined bowling in the domestic circuit as he was roped in by the Deccan Chargers for the third season of IPL. However, he failed to make an impression there as he only played a total of 6 matches in which he took 5 wickets conceding 167 runs with best bowling figures of 2/42 and an economy of a tad over 8.
His moment of reckoning came when Pune Warriors picked him up in the auctions of the fourth season of IPL. He played 11 games for them during which he had 14 wickets to his name conceding 215 runs with best bowling figures of 3/13 and an impressive economy of 5.24. His figures of 4-0-7-2 against Mumbai Indians that year were the most economical by any bowler in that season of the tournament and ensured that next time the Indian selectors pondered over their options in the leg spin department, his name was right on top of that list.
Riding on the back of some stellar performances in the IPL, Rahul Sharma earned his place in the Indian ODI squad for the home series against England but did not get a game. However, he made his debut in the fourth ODI against West Indies in Indore in December 2011 and returned impressive match figures of 3/43. In early 2012, he played his debut T20 match against Australia at Sydney where he picked just one wicket.
In his relatively short international career so far, Rahul Sharma has played 4 ODIs and 2 T20 internationals for India. He was a part of the Chennai Super Kings squad for IPL 8. With a career already embroiled in controversy, one can only hope that this leg spinner from Punjab does justice to his talent instead of fading into oblivion like some of his other contemporaries. And with age by his side, maybe, he still has an outside chance; but for now, things don’t look too bright for him.
Known to be the youngest Indian to make his Test debut at the age of 17 years, 193 days before Sachin Tendulkar overtook him, for a brief period during the 1980s, Maninder Singh was flaunted as the next spin prodigy from India; an heir-apparent to Bishan Singh Bedi. This loopy left arm spinner from Maharashtra had the guile of a bowler who could rip the ball on surfaces that had any sort of turn on offer.
However, in his 11-year long international career, Maninder Singh’s tally of 88 wickets at an economy of 2.40 from the 35 Tests and two five-fors and two 10-fors is far outweighed by his excellent first class numbers – 145 matches, 606 wickets, an economy of 2.39 and 46 five-fors and 14 10-fors to show for his efforts. Quite clearly, he was unable to emulate his first class performances in Test cricket.
On the other hand, his performance in the shorter version of the game seemed to be better compared to his Test numbers. In the 59 ODIs that he played for India, he took a total of 66 wickets at an economy rate of a tad below four, with best bowling figures of 4/22.
Between June 1986 and March 1987, Maninder Singh had hit a purple patch in Tests as he went on to take 55 wickets in the 13 matches that he played at an average of 23.56 with three five-fors and two 10-fors to his name. But post that, there was a dip in his form as he could get only a further 11 scalps against his name at an average of 65.45 from 7 matches.
With form deserting him, he soon lost his place in the side and despite two abortive comebacks in the early 1990s which saw him play his last Test match against Zimbabwe at Delhi and his last ODI against England at Gwalior, he soon retired from active cricket at the age of 27 and has since been an epitome of unfulfilled promise and talent.