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IPL 2019: Finger spinners are finally getting a chance to shine

Shrey Gupta
ANALYST
Feature
318   //    10 Apr 2019, 11:38 IST

R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh (picture courtesy: BCCI/iplt20.com)
R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh (picture courtesy: BCCI/iplt20.com)

There was a time in the late 2000s when finger spinners used to dominate across all formats. Bowlers like Muttiah Muralitharan, Saqlain Mushtaq and Daniel Vettori were in great demand, and they grabbed wickets in huge numbers.

Even in India, apart from the great Anil Kumble, the finger spinners held sway over the wrist spinners.

That scenario started changing at the turn of the current decade. The finger spinners who used to keep the batsmen quiet with their tight line and length started getting tormented by them. Their economy rates rose sharply as modern day pitches became flatter and more adaptable for the batsmen to hit boundaries.

Finger spinners found it difficult to get turn out of unresponsive pitches, and they could no longer deceive the batsmen and claim some crucial wickets. Many believed that the art of finger spin was on its way to becoming obsolete.

On the other hand, the wrist spinners rose from the ashes, especially in the shorter formats. They effectively used their capability to turn the ball on any pitch, which allowed them to attack and play aggressively.

The batsmen also feared to hit them as the unpredictable nature of their spin made risk-taking doubly dangerous. Therefore, the economy rates of wrist spinners was also decent, and they helped control the flow of runs in the middle overs.

Now in IPL 2019, we are again witnessing a turn in the tide. The finger spinners have started to revive their relevance, and the results and stats of the first quarter of the tournament speak volumes of their efficiency.

Apart from Yuzvendra Chahal and to some extent Imran Tahir, the wrist spinners aren't overshadowing their finger spin counterparts. On the contrary, the finger spinners are matching them step for step, claiming loads of wickets and driving their teams towards victory.

Harbhajan Singh has rewound the clock and claimed seven wickets in just four matches and that too at a jaw-dropping economy rate, helping Chennai Super Kings climb to the top of the IPL points table. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are also doing very well, making timely strikes when most needed.

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On the other hand, India's Chinaman magician Kuldeep Yadav seems to have suddenly lost his touch, and is leaking runs at an enormous rate.

This IPL may well be a rallying cry for finger spinners, while simultaneously sending alarm bells for wrist spinners. The form of Kuldeep Yadav is an issue of great concern for India as well, considering the World Cup is also just around the corner.

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