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It's leg spin season in IPL 2017

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Imran_Tahir_IPL_South_Africa_CricketHark back to late 2000s and spinners were considered a liability and a risk in the shortest format of the game. Turn the clock to 2017 and the spinners are now assets for their sides. Spinners have overpowered their fast bowling counterparts and have turned out to be the go-to men for their captains.

Coincidentally, this story is similar to a new leg spinning sensation who also used to bowl medium pace before advice from his father turned him into a leg spinner. Aussie Adam Zampa said, “Before that, I would bowl medium-pace; those little in-swingers.”

“The shorter version is great for leg-spin; batsmen have to come at you, you have five fielders on the fence,” said Zampa. 

Even in the last season of the IPL, up until the halfway mark, fast bowlers were ruling with only Amit Mishra and Murugan Ashwin being able to break into the top 10 wicket takers chart.

ICC’s strict guidelines were out. The likes of Narine had to change their action, and that took off a lot of their sting. This caused them to cut down on their variations and conventional off-spin is easier for batsmen to face. 

A former Indian seamer believed that captains prefer to go to their seamers because boundaries are smaller and spinners allow more time for batsmen to get under the ball. Seamers bowl fast and give batsmen little time to think.

Not even a year later, everything seems to have changed and leg spinners are having a laugh. With a number of variations, the leggies inflict damage and have become the main weapon used in dismantling the opposition.

Understanding the importance of a leg spinner, each team bolstered their attack with them at the auction. While Sunrisers went big on Rashid Khan, they also got Tambe into their setup to add depth. Mumbai Indians broke the bank for Karn Sharma. Delhi Daredevils, who already have Mishra in their ranks, spent a lot of money for Murugan Ashwin. Rising Pune Supergiant acquired the services of Imran Tahir after the auction, while they had Zampa as well. Other teams drafted domestic leg spinners into their sides to get this vital cog in their machines.

Almost touching a month into IPL 2017 and leg spinners have made a huge impact. Though the seamers have had their say on a few occasions, it’s the leg spinners who have managed to outfox the batsmen and impact games.

It all started with the 1st game itself where Rashid Khan made an instant impact for his side against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. In the 2nd game of the IPL, Imran Tahir struck thrice to put Mumbai in a spot of bother and helped Pune emerge triumphant. Over the course of the season, Yuzvendra Chahal, Amit Mishra, Samuel Badree and Kuldeep Yadav have all impacted games. Ankit Soni, Gujarat’s very own mystery bowler spotted by Dinesh Karthik in the Tamil Nadu Premier League, has also troubled the best of batsmen.

In T20s, there is no one more dangerous than a consistent leg spinner as the players have shown in this edition of the IPL.

Each leg spinner is unique in their way. While Tahir mixes it up with his quicker ones, googlies and the occasional leg breaks, Rashid Khan has thrived mostly on googlies. The RCB duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Samuel Badree has been rewarded for their consistent lines and lengths, while Kuldeep Yadav has been effective with his unusual Chinaman and the ability to confuse the batsmen, mixing his leg spinners and googlies really well. Ankit Soni is more of a tradition leg spinner, who flights the ball and lets it turn, but also mixes it up with a few unknown entities. 

In the list of leading wicket takers, Tahir is top among his leg spinning fellows and 2nd overall with 16 wickets in 10 games. Rashid Khan follows the pack at 5th position with 12 wickets in 9 games. Chahal is next at number 8 with 11 wickets in 10 games. Samuel Badree (16th) with an impressive haul of 9 wickets in just 5 games, Kuldeep Yadav (19th) with 8 wickets in 9 games and Amit Mishra (24th) with 7 wickets in 8 games, are the rest of the top performers. 

Apart from the wicket tally, leg spinners also haven’t been hit, barring a game apiece. They have made huge impacts in the game with their wickets coming in at crucial intervals, just when the team needed the most. Even when the leggies have gone for runs, they have come back to take a wicket to bring their teams back into the game.

Putting all these into perspective, it would be safe to say leg spinners are ruling the roost and are evidently the flavour of the IPL thus far.

 

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