A little more than six months after starting their India journey together, wrist spinners – albeit of different kinds – Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal sneered 32 wickets between them to help India drub South Africa 5-1 in their own backyard in an ODI series in 2018.. Three months later they would go on to pick 17 more in five limited-overs fixtures in England. All seemed hunky-dory and it appeared that India have found two spinners who can bowl the opposition out on any surface.
International cricket, however, has its own twists and turns. Kuldeep lost a bit of form and Ravindra Jadeja’s three-dimensional abilities forced India to pick either of the two wrist spinners in the side. More often than not, it was Chahal. It started reflecting on the wickets column.
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The famous Kul-Cha combo was reduced to making guest appearances from lead roles. The last time these two featured together was in a 2019 World Cup game against England.
The seamers and Jadeja were doing a handy job but matters started to take a turn towards the wrong direction when wickets dried up for Bumrah and Shami with the new ball from the New Zealand tour earlier this year. It went further south in the recent two ODIs against Australia. That’s where India needed their spinners to stand up but they didn’t. Chahal and Jadeja appeared helpless in front of Steve Smith, David Warner, and Glenn Maxwell.
The lack of wickets from India’s spinners in the past 12 months have given the think tank much to ponder about. The think tank is where the solution too lies, all it needs is a new addition. The entry of a spin bowling coach will help Chahal and Kuldeep get their rhythm back, feels former India spinner Maninder Singh.
“These youngsters need to be looked after and someone needs to be there who talks with them all the time. You cannot leave them thinking that just because they are playing international cricket so they would know everything,” Maninder told Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat.
“Unfortunately the Indian team only has a fast bowling coach. It is very difficult for a fast bowling coach to understand the problems of a spinner. A spinner like me can understand where Kuldeep is going wrong or what areas Chahal needs to work on but a fast bowler won’t be able to identify those minute details. I think BCCI should think about having a spin-bowling coach, it’ll be a big help to the young spinners.
“Ravi Shastri is in the team. He was a left-arm spinner but with all the planning involved, I don’t know how much time he can spend with the spinners alone,” he added.
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Maninder, a crafty left-arm spinner during his time, who played 26 Test matches and 35 ODIs for India, said rhythm is a crucial aspect of bowling for a spinner.
“If spinners don’t have rhythm they have nothing so being in rhythm is very important. When a spinner starts his run-up, his bowling starts then and there, if the run-up is not right and there is no rhythm then the ball won’t come out of the hands the way the bowler wants it to,” added Maninder.
The former left-arm spinner, who is in the running to become a part of the national selection committee, said saliva ban will impact the spinners as much as the seamers, if not more.
“It’s a myth that only fast bowlers require saliva. When a spinner wants to swerve the ball or get a better drift in the air to fox the batsmen, he needs one side rough and the other one heavy or shiny. I used to take a lot of help by keeping the rough side inside the palm. Nowadays spinners like to do the opposite but by keeping the rough side inside the palm, I used to get that extra drift. You might get the drift with an old ball without rough and shiny sides but it won’t be enough to deceive the batsmen.
“It is just like reverse swing. It happens late and when the spinner is bowling, it doesn’t start drifting from your hand but when it goes near the batsman, it suddenly dips and slants in more,” said Maninder.