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All of them are ‘Alag’ like the birthday boy

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altAfter completing 33 years of his existence on planet earth today, Ashish Nehra is definitely not getting younger but the question is did he ever look young? One can ask this question looking at his perennially drooped shoulders, a constipated facial look and of course the autorickshaw-running-on-potholed-Mumbai-roads bowling action.

Bowlers around the world are known for their pace, effectiveness, swings, spin, guile and control etc, etc. Some are known to do all of that with sheer grace while some with utter disgust. While the Holdings, Donalds, McGraths, Bonds, Wasims and Warnes of the world explode gracefully, birthday boy Nehra is a picture of a lanky uncoordinated ballet dancer.

He may not be fitting in the stereotypical fast bowler frame but somehow he has managed to be, when fit, the ‘to-go’ man in crunch situations for some of India’s best captains like Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni. And he has had very little success but more often than not it has been overshadowed by his failures.

However, the fact is that he is from a different league, a league of extraordinary gentleman. Mind you, the Delhi pacer isn’t a loner in this league. He has the company of a certain Debasis Mohanty, Hamish Bennett and Paul Adams. If Nehra is like an autorickshaw… as I said earlier, Mohanty is like a breastroke swimmer coming out to bowl.

In fact, if someone is facing Mohanty for the first time, it will be difficult to figure out from which hand the ball will be released. But anyway, the Orissa born player is now the coach of his state’s Ranji team. Hope he doesn’t open a bowling academy.

The common thing between the two was that not only they were a prick to the eye of the purists and others alike but they could swing the ball better than anyone in the country when conditions favoured the seamers. But how often do you see that India? Apart from their ability to make the cherry talk, they must have got wickets surprising the batsmen with their ‘unique’ actions.

Nehra’s another prospective partner is from New Zealand called Hamish Bennett. This Canterbury medium-fast bowler is like a basketball player dunking with both his hands but with a five and a half ounce cherry and on a cricket pitch. With a physique of that of a fast bowler, he leaps into the popping crease with such velocity that it the flattened pitch would surely have a ‘Great Depression’ at the end of the day’s play.

Finally, famously known as ‘frog in the blender’ Paul Adams has been the greatest mystery bowler the world has ever known. While batsmen around the world would have been able to solve the mystery around West Indian Sonny Ramadhin and Sri Lankan Ajantha Mendis, Adams was a different story.

For Ramadhin and Mendis, batsmen had to find which way the ball would spin, but with Adams, the batsmen were left wondering where will he bowl from. In fact, he himself didn’t know what he was bowling, saying they were inspinners or outspinners. In cricketing terminology, he bowled chinaman.

With face pointing skywards when he is about to bowl, his hand looking to come out of a trap, the Cape Towner completed the delivery somehow but evidently with his left leg almost stretching out as if he will kick the umpire in his face like WWE superstar Shawn Michaels kick out of tombstone. It was a contortion impossible to decipher and it could be justified seeing his burgeoned wickets tally.

But nevertheless, all these bowlers have been special in their own ways. They all are 'Alag'.


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