Has IPL 2017 Been A Season For The Leg Spinners?

IPL 2017 saw a resurrection of Leg spin bowling, with the tweakers scalping timely wickets and bowling miserly spells. Leg spinners turned out to be one of the most impactful players this season.

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Imran Tahir
Imran Tahir celebrating a wicket in his signature style

Leg Spin bowling is a rare craft. These tweakers are almost like wizards making the ball turn with a swing of their wands. We’ve seen batsmen struggle against leg spinners, with the likes of Shane Warne and Anil Kumble almost making the batsmen dance around the crease.

Although Leggies are genuine match winners, being a leg spinner isn’t that easy; you need to bowl with a big heart, flighting the ball, allowing the ball to travel slowly through the air risking it to be hit out of the park. Over the years genuine leg spinners have been a captain’s secret weapon, the hidden X-factor within the team. You go to them when you need to break a partnership; the answer to excessive run flow too is leg spin.

But these specialist bowlers in recent times have been akin to the Lion species, their numbers are dwindling, it almost seems as if the art of leg spin is lost somewhere, the few who have managed to survive are roaring in their niche but the cubs seem to have been missing. And as modern day cricket grew to become more of a batsman’s game to see the flipper, the top spinner, the skidding slider and the looping googly had become a rarity.

However, this IPL was promising for it showed resurrection of wrist spin bowling. The Tahirs, the Chahals, and the Rashids showed a spark, a spark which said that ‘it’s not over yet!’ This IPL season has possibly been a year for leg spinners. Who says so? The numbers have a big say here, we’ll look at them but beyond that recall all the matches this season, sides who have had a quality leg spinner who is on song have been dominant over the opposition more often than not. Whether it was Imran Tahir initially for RPS or Rashid Khan for SRH or even Karn Sharma for MI lately, there was one thing with them, that when their leggie has had a good time these teams have been at ease, such has been the impact of 24 balls twisting the teams fate, just as a googly twists in its path.

Imran Tahir, Rashid Khan, Karn Sharma, Yuzvendra Chahal, Samuel Badree and to some extent Shahbaz Nadeem have been key architects of this leg spin resurrection, sure there have been others like Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla and KC Cariappa who have pitched in but they have structured it in bits and pieces, so we shall mainly focus on these few names, Kuldeep Yadav isn’t a purist here but we will be looking at his numbers too.

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan (Source : Twitter)

If the leg spinners in the IPL were a clan of lions, Imran Tahir would be the leader of it, a father figure. While we are aware that Tahir interacted with young spinners and shared his tricks, the man bowled with an even bigger heart. In the 12 matches the South African played, he took 18 wickets at an economy of 7.85, and his best performance of 3/18 rattled the RCB. If Tahir is a pro, Rashid Khan is unarguably the new talented cub, the prodigy. He was deceptive, and his bowling was smart and usually a step ahead of the batsmen. Rashid has 17 wickets to his name in 14 matches at a miser economy of 6.62.

Twitter reacts as Samuel Badree bags IPL's first hat-trick of the season - essentiallysports.com
Samuel Badree took the first hat trick of IPL 2017

Though RCB had two brilliant leg spinners, they had a very forgetful season. but the leggie duo had pretty much done their job, Yuzvendra Chahal has 14 scalps in 13 matches to his name at a decent economy of 7.90. Samuel Badree, though we hear very little about him, usually being over shadowed by the hype around Narine, had an amazing season, he also accounted for a hattrick against MI. Badree snapped 9 wickets in 7 matches bowling at a miserly economy of 5.39.

Shahbaz Nadeem might not be getting to play as much as he deserves too but whenever he has got a chance he has tried to put up a strong case for himself, he scalped 6 wickets in just 7 games he was a part of not leaking runs beyond 6.67. Kuldeep may be one of his kind, a special one in the clan but he has performed well enough to be proud of himself, scalping 12 wickets in equal games at a slightly higher economy of 8.29.

Karn Sharma
Karn Sharma was a star performer for the Mumbai Indians (pic source: NDTV sports)

And coming to one of the best performers this season, this man’s journey this season seems to be exactly like leg spin, once spoken of, forgotten, lost and then comes a resurrection! Karn Sharma displayed match winning performances to carry Mumbai all the way, they were impressive enough that they forced the team management to chose him over the experience of Harbhajan Singh, if not among the wickets he made sure he kept it tight. He has 13 wickets in just 9 matches at a decent economy of 6.97 to his name.

The ten leg spinners above have combined bowled scalped 104 wickets at an economy of 7.78 bowling 332.5 overs. The numbers surely do tell half the tale, the rest has already been narrated by the matches we witnessed and the pressure these bowlers created. The IPL 2017 does seem to be a year for leg spinners, what do you think?

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