This IPL has been special for more than a few reasons. The quality of cricket has been excellent. For an Indian fan, there has been much to cheer with plenty of Indian performers rising up to the occasion unfazed by all the foreign stars.
However, one thing clearly stands out this season – the quality of leg-spin bowling. At one point, three of the top five wicket-takers were leg-spinners. While that was a tough stat to maintain, leg-spin by and large has been resurrected.
It isn’t a dying art for sure, seeing as we are, how they have figured a way to deceive the big bats and muscular batsmen. We take a look at the top five leg-spinners on show.
#1 Imran Tahir (Rising Pune Supergiant)
One of the biggest surprises of the auction – why wouldn’t you pick Imran Tahir, one of the best T20 bowlers going around the world; not to mention the fact that he has played for more than a couple of dozen T20 teams. But destiny’s child found a way in, thanks to Ravichandran Ashwin’s injury and he has made the most of it.
Tahir is second on the wicket-takers’ list, four behind Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Tahir’s 16 wickets have come in 10 innings and 39 overs with a best of 3/18. What is impressive is how the wicket-taking bowler is rummaging for breakthroughs and that shows in the fact that he averages a measly 19.31, although his economy of 7.92 is a tad higher than usual.
Playing quite a few matches on the Pune wicket can do that to your economy though and Tahir has been responsible for keeping Pune in the hunt so far, seeing as they are in the fourth position on the table.
Tahir’s contributions were particularly evident against Gujarat Lions when he turned the tide with three quick wickets (3/27) that ensured GL didn’t end up with a huge score. Tahir’s 3/18 against RCB was impressive too.
#2 Rashid Khan (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Afghanistan’s 18-year old sensation was a surprise pick but god has he delivered on the expectation and promise. His USP is his speed, as he turns the ball away despite clocking a speed of 90 kph and above. That makes it hard to deal with. He has a very good googly that most batsmen in the IPL have failed to pick.
That he is sensational on the field is an added bonus. Thanks to him, SRH have something to keep the brakes on when their other superstar bowler, Bhuvneshwar Kumar isn’t bowling. Rashid has 12 wickets from 9 innings and 36 overs and is sixth currently on the wicket-takers’ list.
Although his average is above 20 (20.75), his economy of 6.91 would be to his skipper Warner’s liking. With best figures of 3/19, Rashid is one of the reasons why SRH’s bowling is so hard to get away. Rashid regularly finishes his spell giving away less than 20 runs, like he did against Kings XI, Supergiants, the Lions and Mumbai Indians.
#3 Yuzvendra Chahal (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
RCB’s Chahal had a brilliant start to his T20I career against England just before the IPL and he maintained his form while playing in the IPL. Although he started out with a bang, Chahal has gone off the boil a little bit but that is largely because of his team’s poor batting performances which have hardly given the bowlers much to feed on.
Chahal is 9th on the wicket-takers’ list with 11 wickets from 10 innings at 22.63 with an economy of 7.66, pretty good for anyone who bowls a lot at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, batsmen’s paradise. His best figures of 3/16 came against KKR, one of the batting powerhouses of the IPL, showing his class and calibre.
He was also spectacular against Daredevils with figures of 1/19 in a thriller of a match.
#2 Samuel Badree (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
West Indies’s Samuel Badree started late, but started with a bang, taking a hat-trick albeit in a losing cause. The mystery spinner, Sunil Narine’s lesser-known teammate, has picked up 9 wickets in 5 matches at 14.88 with an economy of 7.05.
Badree has bowled the second most economical 4-over spell this season with figures of 4/9 in 4 overs against the Mumbai Indians, although RCB lost that close low-scoring game.
Badree’s leg-breaks are his biggest strength, although he along with Chahal are ill-served on the Chinnaswamy tracks where dew is a major problem in the second innings and where the pitch is flat in the first. It doesn’t help that Badree doesn’t always find a place in the XI because of only four foreign players being allowed.
#5 Amit Mishra (Delhi Daredevils)
As always, Amit Mishra’s wickets do not really show if he has been average or above average. In 8 games, he has 7 wickets, with a best of 3/11 against the Supergiants where he showed how difficult he is to get away when on a roll.
Mishra, who has 208 Twenty20 wickets, has taken his wickets at 25.85 with an economy of 8.29, an off-season of sorts for him, as well as his team. It doesn’t help that Mishra is one of the veterans of the IPL which makes it very difficult for him to deceive batsmen who have watched numerous videos of his bowling and can pick up his googly as well as his surprise off-spinner (bowled like an off-spinner).
Mishra strangely hasn’t bowled his full quota of overs, having delivered just 21.5 overs in 8 matches, which is really hard to explain considering Delhi’s inconsistent bowling in this IPL.
Although Delhi is all but out of the tournament, Mishra would want to still remind the Indian fans that he is India’s most experienced leg-spinner.