IPL 2017: Leg-spinners are the flavour of the season, but leg-break isn’t

Rashid, Chahal, and Tahir have harked back to the West Indian Samuel Badree, the pioneer of using the good length to harass a batsman.




IT’S NOT a surprise that three leg-spinners have been lighting up the IPL nights, thwarting the big-hitters with their art, and teasing them out with their variations. Where Imran Tahir, Yuzvendra Chahal and Rashid Khan stand out is in the fact that they don’t rely on the conventional leg-break but strike with their sliders, googlies, and skidders. Even that isn’t a surprise as they aren’t your conventional leggies, but the enthralling aspect lies in how they have stamped their individuality and uniqueness even while operating in this (seemingly) limited framework. It’s one thing for the batsmen to know that they won’t be facing too many legbreaks, its another thing altogether to come up with a plan to deal with the white ball tilting in towards them.
Everyone knows that Tahir deals in googlies and sliders but his deception lies in how he serves them up: it’s in the use of the crease, releasing the ball from different angles, that he gets his men. Everyone knows Chahal’s strength is his accuracy but he strikes with his impressive control over length and its allied skill to not allow the batsmen to get under his deliveries. Rashid Khan’s action and the fact that this is first IPL is an advantage but his weapon lies in how he conceals his googly and in the thought he puts in the set-up.
Unsurprisingly, considering the paucity of legbreaks, they get scored more on the leg side – 90 runs to 55 on the off collectively. 68% of their deliveries – 145 out of 213 – have hustled in from a good length or just back of it. In the lengths they operate, Rashid, Chahal, and Tahir have harked back to the West Indian Samuel Badree, the pioneer of using the good length to harass a batsman. Conventional legspinners usually bowl a touch fuller, trying to force the mistake on the drive but Badree would use his low-arm release, the resultant lower trajectory, and the length to hustle out the batsmen. There is a bit of Badree in this trio of leggies in the first couple of weeks in IPL.

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