Tales of bowlers past: Best Indian spinners till date
After Bedi, it was Bhagwat Subramanya Chandrasekhar with his leg break, who tortured opposition batsmen the most. He was an antithesis of Bedi with not a single orthodox bone in his body, spinning the ball at almost the speed of a medium pacer.
Although his 242 Test wickets from 58 matches at an average of 29.74 is less than Bedi, his strike rate of 65.9 as compared to Bedi’s 80.3 is much better.
His greatness can be gauged from the fact that his tally of 6 wickets from 32 runs against England at the Oval in 1971 was adjudged the “Best bowling performance of the century” by Wisden.
Besides, his fantastic overseas record was what sets him apart from the rest of the Indian spinners. He played in just one ODI, taking 3 wickets at an average of 12.
Erapalli Anantharao Srinivas Prasanna was the first great off-spinner of India who played less matches than the other three of the spin quartet, as he took a break of four years at the start of his career to complete his engineering degree.
Still, his 189 wickets from 49 Tests at an average of 30.38 at a strike rate of 75.9 is something worth gawking at. The reason that Venkataraghavan doesn’t make it to our present list is that, being an off spinner as well, his accomplishments were pretty modest as compared to Prasanna.
If Bedi was a part of the famous Indian spin quartet, Dilip Rasiklal Doshi belonged to the tragic trio which also consisted of Padmakar Shivalkar and Rajinder Goel, who forever remained in the shadows of the quartet.
Doshi was the luckiest of the lot as he finally managed to break into the Indian team, albeit at an age of 32, when his best cricketing days were far behind him.
The fact that he still managed to scalp 114 wickets from the 33 Test matches he played in at an average of 30.71, is adequate proof of his bowling acumen. He also took 22 wickets in the 15 ODIs he featured in at an average of just 23.81.
Anil Kumble came as a breath of fresh air with his right-arm leg break bowling after all the slow left-arm orthodox Indian bowlers that came before him. If his contemporary Shane Warne was known for his unimaginable talent of turning the ball, Kumble hardly ever spun the ball and rather caught the batsmen unawares with his subtle variations of pace and flight.
And unlike those who featured before in this list, Kumble also had a pretty good ODI career. His career statistics read 619 wickets from 132 Test matches at an average of 29.65 and 337 wickets from 271 ODIs at an average of 30.89.
He is also the only player after Jim Laker of England to scalp 10 wickets in an innings, a feat he achieved against Pakistan in 1999.
The bowler whom we are the most familiar with, Harbhajan Singh Plaha is beyond doubt the greatest off-spinner of India, barring perhaps the inimitable Prasanna.
“The Turbanator” made a very poor debut against Australia in 1998 and was sidelined for many years before his resurgence against the same team in the legendary Border-Gavaskar trophy of 2001, partly thanks to the then Indian captain Sourav Ganguly who fought with the selectors to help Harbhajan bag a position in the team.
He never looked back since then and has taken 413 wickets in 101 Tests at an average of 32.37 till date and another 259 wickets in ODIs from 229 matches at an average of 33.40.
He also has a decent T20 International record, having scalped 22 wickets in 25 matches at an average of 26.04. He also has the distinction of being a part of the Indian team that won both the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007 and the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011.