Ravi Bishnoi - India's reply to Rashid Khan? 

Ravi Bishnoi rose through the ranks after the 2020 U-19 World Cup
Ravi Bishnoi rose through the ranks after the 2020 U-19 World Cup
Gokul Nair

India have harbored a long list of illustrious spinners, be it of any kind. With a generation of finger spinners slowly becoming a submissive brand, the onus is, particularly on wrist spinners as we usher into a new era.

The last few years have seen Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav dominate the spin circuit for the Indian team. The iconic 'Kul-Cha', despite being a force to be reckoned with during their prime, ended up being a flame that flickered too early. While the finger can be pointed at team combination, form and management, it is an answer that might not solve much or provide too much respite.

As Team India look at their pool of next-generation leg-spinners, despite Chahal and Kuldeep still having a bit of age on their side and perhaps even performing, two names spring to mind. Rahul Chahar and Ravi Bishnoi have emerged as prime candidates to lead the wrist-spin department in the years to come.

The young spinner from Rajasthan, Ravi Bishnoi, came onto the scene during the 2020 Under-19 World Cup. His return of 4-5 against Japan turned a few heads but it was his spell in the final that grabbed more than a few eyeballs.

It is safe to say that Rashid Khan has set new standards when it comes to leg-spin with the white ball. The deception, the pace and variations have made him perhaps one of the most prized assets for any team. The fact that he has prowess across all three traits makes the batsman even more powerless.

While India have not had to complain about their spin bowling options since the dawn of time, one must have thought about the prospect of the inclusion of Rashid Khan in the playing XI, given that he has become the best in the world. Terms like 'Rashid Khan India' and 'Rashid Khan Indian Citizenship' have been a common sight through web searches and social media, more so ever since the re-introduction of Taliban governance in Afghanistan.

Not just because of the chance of it becoming a reality, but instead to give the promising Indian side a shield of invincibility. The current state of Afghan cricket makes it difficult for the young spinner to mark his legacy in international cricket and relies primarily on franchise cricket around the globe.

While not exactly a carbon copy to be fair, the most common trait between the two young leg-spinners, apart from their long run up, is their ability to remain consistent. In this age of competitive cricket, consistency and skill might arguably be the biggest attributes required to be successful and, more importantly, relevant.

Bishnoi displays slower arm action than Rashid Khan does. He also relies a bit more on flight than the young Afghan does. Their ability to execute their variations just as much as their stock deliveries makes them tough to play. So much so that Rashid Khan himself has praised Ravi Bishnoi for his varitations.

How do the leg-spinners fare when bowling to LHB?✴ Rashid Khan is obviously the KING👍 Ravi Bishnoi was excellent in his first season. Remains to be seen whether he can keep up the same consistency.😲 Rahul Tewatia and Karn Sharma quite underrated.#IPL2021

Another merit that comes with the fact that they have equally deceptive and effective variation is the fact that they can bowl equally well to left-handers and right-handers as well.

How do Ravi Bishnoi and Rashid Khan stand statistically?

Given the vast difference in terms of experience with the national team despite their similarity in age, the IPL emerges as the sole avenue when it comes to comparison.

The Afghan prodigy came into the IPL as a highly-rated spinner after his exploits at the 2016 T20 World Cup.

With Bishnoi having played 21 IPL matches over the course of one and a half editions, he has scalped 22 wickets at an average of 23.74 with an economy of 6.91.

Rashid Khan eerily produced similar returns after 21 matches in the cash-rich league three years ago. The Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) spin maestro took 24 wickets at an average of 21.50 with an economy of 6.82.

What does the future hold for Ravi Bishnoi?

Honing his skills under the tutelage of the legendary Anil Kumble at Punjab Kings (PBKS), Bishnoi has shown that he does have the skills to perform at the highest level.

Ravi Bishnoi in #IPL2021:2/21(4)0/19(4)2/17(4)0/42(4)3/24(4)2/25(4)2/22(4)He deserves a call into the New Zealand T20 series in November.

His aggression coupled with his unbrazen personality helps with the mental aspect of the game as well. The current age poses an exciting time for a young spinner.

With the current crop of Indian spinners either aging or waning in form, there might be a window in the near future, a window through which Bishnoi could potentially be groomed and integrated, especially in white-ball cricket.

Edited by Samya Majumdar
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