cricket in the 1990s and he lived just long enough to see his clan hold its own in the shorter formats of the game.
Warne will remain an obvious case study for any spinner, especially those traveling to Australia. He defined the power of a wrist spinner. When the wave of wrist-spin washed over limited-overs cricket in 2018, he did not want to stop flowing. Was at the forefront of that wave Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. India’s emphatic success in the middle overs through wrist spin has prompted every team to groom at least one in their ranks.
Wrist twisting became the prescribed tonic. Spinners were no longer meant to contain only the white ball. Come this T20 World Cup, only Chahal survived to make it to India’s T20 World Cup squad.
Suddenly reliance is placed on the control of finger spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel. If one scrolls through the groups, one turner turns out to be the
norm. But India’s problems go beyond just getting a few overs from spinners.
Jasprit Bumrah’s absence, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s indifferent form, the lack of T20 match practice behind Mohammed Shami and the inexperience of Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel mean the spinners will have to play a bigger role. Cutting through the opposition’s batting lineup remains a challenge.
Warne was ahead of his time, even in his 40s, retired from international cricket for a good five years. Playing for Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League (BBL) in 2012, he was the first to show that wrist-spinners were playing a bigger role in T20 cricket, even as batsmen got stronger, bats meatier,
sites that look like concrete roads and the boundaries have shrunk.
The video of Warne explaining on the ear mic how he was going to set up Brendon McCullum, the poster boy of T20 cricket at the time, and then clear him behind his legs in a BBL match has a cult following on the internet.
Topspin, overspin, drift and angles were Warne’s primary weapons to disrupt the myth on fast and bouncy pitches in Australia. Turn on to withdraw excessively
T20 pitches in Australia are a delusion. This is the template.
Adam Zampa, Australia’s trump card in T20Is, testified on Wednesday: “In Australia you can try to hit the top of the bat, bowl a lot of overspin and try to catch guys at longon and long-off, because if you (bowl) the top of the bat, that’s where the ball goes. Side spin here isn’t really a key factor, it’s more about getting guys at the top of the bat.”
From leading India for the first time in ICC World Cup to the team’s approach in the #T20WorldCup! 👌 👌💬 💬 In conjunction… https://t.co/Bq4uMrkNX9
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One bowler in Indian cricket who can do it all with consistency is Ravi Bishnoi. Extra pace, fizz and terrifying overswing on the ball has helped him have a fairly smooth initiation into international cricket over the past eight months. The Indian selectors and team management had to choose between him and Ravichandran Ashwin. Axar was the convenient replacement for the injured Ravindra Jadeja. They chose to play safe with Ashwin’s experience.
The Asia Cup debacle must have played on their minds. Preferring experience over youth has been the template for captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid. Bishnoi was the pick of the bowlers against Pakistan in the Asia Cup. This was the only match he played in the tournament and since then he never got a place in India’s first choice eleven.
“Everyone has to wait for his time. We don’t drop or pick players based on stats. It is about the role a person plays in the team. If some new guy steps up, it doesn’t mean a player who’s been performing for two years is sitting out. That’s where that player loses confidence,” India vice-captain KL Rahul said after India completed their forgettable Asia Cup campaign in early September.
(File image of India captain Rohit Sharma with Ravi Bishnoi – ANI Photo)
On paper, India’s spin attack is formidable. Axar and Ashwin formed a powerful combination for Delhi Capitals in IPL in UAE. But the pitches there offered varying pace and turns. With Australia’s vast borders, their guile and experience can work out very well.
Again, one must note Zampa’s words about the expected conditions: “We haven’t had a summer in a long time where there was (enough) sun so that the pitches were dry enough to turn. As a spinner if there is some juice in the deck you hope for it.”