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The Magic of Spin Bowling

spin bowling of Ashwin

At the end of the third day’s play in the Mumbai Test, with Virat Kohli scoring a magnificent century, Mike Artheton made an interesting observation: I wish Ashwin was bowling to Virat on this pitch! Well Rashid Ali is no Derek Underwood; nor is Virat the best Indian player against spin. That title would hands down go the Prince of Calcutta Saurav Ganguly.

“Cricket is replete with incandescent memories of the struggle between spin and batting skill.”

spin bowling against Saurav

I have seen even Sachin floundering big time against Saqlain. Ganguly had no such discomfort, even against Saqlain at his best, Cricket is replete with incandescent memories of the struggle between spin and batting skill.as he used his feet exceptionally well against the best of spinners. Brian Lara can be called Prince non parallel against spin bowling. When the mighty Australians were humbled by Murali in the turning tracks of Srilanka, Lara danced down the wicket to make mincemeat of Muthai.

Cricket is replete with incandescent memories of the struggle between spin and batting skill. As India never had the benefit of a true speedster like a Larwood of England, Thompson of Australia, Marshall of West Indies or Shoaib Akhtar of Pakistan, my memories go back to the test match in Delhi 1969, when Prasanna spun a web around Bill Lawry and Ian Chapell. This was the first radio commentary I heard through a newly acquired transistor. Chapell still considers EAS as India’s greatest off spinner.

“…the leg spinning magician BS Chandrasekhar who spun India to its first test victory in the British soil in 1971.”

spin bowling by chandra

But my palm would always go to  the withered wrist of the leg spinning magician BS Chandrasekhar who spun India to its first test victory in the British soil in 1971. It was sheer magic how someone affected by polio can redeem the pride of a colony who always lived on a diet of defeat or draw till then. The West Indians had the same feeling when they whitewashed the English team in 1976, thanks to the batting genius Viv Richards and silken smooth fury of Holding. Tony Greg paid dearly for his remarks that he will make the West Indies grovel.

But my best moment in spin bowling came when I watched my hero Chandra bowl Lloyd with a googly in the Calcutta test in 1975. It was my first match on ground and my teenager’s delight could not have been more cathartic, as Clive Lloyd waited for quite a while; completely befuddled by the googly that destroyed his castle.

It was therefore quite a heartbreak, the way Zahir Abbas and Miandad pulverised the famed spin trio: Bedi, Pras and Chandra in 1976 after the magical moments in Chepauk and Calcutta when India humbled the mighty West Indies in the summer of 75.

I was in Delhi and the matches were being televised in Black & White from Pakistan. For a Cricket aficionado like me, nothing could have been more debilitating than to watch my hero BS being hammered even by a second rate batter like Muddasar Nazar.

spin bowling shane warne

The ball of the century is often credited to Shane Warne when a googly from him spat back, spun a yard before clipping the top of Mike Gatting’s off stump on 4th June 1993 at Old Trafford. But for me the cartwheeled off stump of Clive Lloyd on that hazy morning of Eden garden in 1975 still lingers; would remain the ball of the last 50 years by an Indian spinner. I wish to see how Zaheer would have played that ball by Warne or our own Chandra.

ashwin mumbai test

 

It’s a trite to say that Cricket is a game of uncertainty! Like Modi’s demonetization googly, Ashwin’s carom ball did the magic on Monday and brought back memories of a Chandra, his Chennai compatriot!

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