What’s the story?
24-year-old Akshay Karnewar, playing for the Board President’s XI against the visiting Australian side, pulled a rabbit out of his hat when he bowled with both his arms in a single over, an extreme rarity in cricket.
Known to bowl with both his arms in domestic cricket for Vidarbha, he presented the Australian batsmen, and those watching the game live at the Chepauk grounds, something rarely witnessed, at least at this level, and even managed to pick up a wicket with his quirky style.
In case you didn’t know…
Having started as an off-spinner, the youngster was forced to change his bowling arm after his coach said that left-arm spinners had become quite a rarity in his town, Nagpur.
As he progressed, he was encouraged by several cricketers, including the likes of Irfan Pathan, to continue plying his unique skill. In 17 first-class games and 13 T20s, he has taken 34 and 10 wickets respectively.
He was picked as one of the 14-members for the warm-up game, captained by Punjab’s Gurkeerat Mann Singh and coached by former India cricketer Hemang Badani.
The heart of the matter
Batting first, the Australian lost Hilton Cartwright early in the innings, before David Warner and Steve Smith repaired the early damage with a solid stand worth 106. Glenn Maxwell followed them, but couldn’t last long, before Marcus Stoinis and Travis Head secured the innings again with another defiant partnership.
Head had reached 65 off 63 balls, when he decided to loft out Karnewar, who was bowling off-spin then, but could reach only as far as long on, where Sandeep Sharma gobbled up a sharp catch.
After the conclusion of the practice game, the Australian side, fresh from a Test win in Bangladesh, will head to Chennai for the first game of the 5-match ODI series, scheduled to be held on September 17.
Eccentricity and unusual styles in cricket is not uncommon, but ambidexterity is fairly rare. Sachin Tendulkar used to walk into the nets and play left-handed sometimes, and apparently, wasn’t bad at it. South Africa’s Robin Peterson could throw with either arms while fielding, while Sri Lanka’s Hashan Tillakaratne bowled with both his arms during the Kenya vs Sri Lanka game in the 1996 World Cup.
However, Karnewar can bowl consistently with both his arms, and if groomed properly, can initiate a rare style of bowling in the game. Former Australian coach John Buchanan had once predicted that ambidexterity will become common in the future. Perhaps, Karnewar is a first of many.
You can follow the live commentary of the game here.