Ind vs Pak: India’s spin trio looks clearly a cut above their Pakistan counterparts. How they bowl in the middle could define the game.
Both nations possess a storied heritage of spinners who have defined the game and art, making their meeting a plot within a plot. Anil Kumble and the two Mushtaqs, Harbhajan Singh and Saeed Ajmal, spinners have been flavourful in this spicy rivalry. This time, though, India’s spin trio looks clearly a cut above their Pakistan counterparts. How they bowl in the middle could define the game.
How does the spin ammo of Ind vs Pak match?
The trinity of Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravi Ashwin are vastly superior to Pakistan’s trusted pair of Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz in probably every facet, be it their skills, economy or recent form. A wide spectrum of skills blend when India pick Yadav, Jadeja, and Ashwin. Jadeja is much more nuanced than a bowl-flat, hit-stumps left-arm orthodox spinner. He had added fascinating layers of variations into his craft, besides the acquired wisdom of making something out of every variety of pitch. On non-turners, he could be callous like a loan-shark; on slightly helpful surfaces he could be mean as a sniper. Kuldeep Yadav, rare as his tribe is, has developed more control over his variations these days and has rediscovered his verve and fizz. Ashwin continues to be a spin-alchemist, enhancing his game with an assortment of variations. Just run through their list of tricks—arm-ball, wrong’un, carrom ball, reverse carrom, off-break, flipper, left-arm orthodox, and left-arm wrist spent—you wonder whether there has been a better confluence of bowling styles ever in ODI cricket?
In comparison, Pakistan’s pair looks modest. As effective as Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz could be when they are at their best—they have not quite been in recent times—both are primarily defensive bowlers, a clan that is getting increasingly redundant these days. Nawaz takes a wicket every 39 balls, this tournament it has shot to 48 per wicket. Shadab too had a lean patch, picking two wickets at a strike rate of 39. Worse, they have combined to leak 6.03 runs an over. In comparison. an Indian spinner has grabbed a wicket every 33rd ball and conceded a frugal 3.72 runs an over. Even if they benefited from playing on a turner in Chepauk, you cannot discount the collective threat or their capacity to change matches irrespective of surfaces. Speaking of experience, Kuldeep alone has 28 more wickets (155) than Shadab and Nawaz combined (127) in this format.
Ind vs Pak: How could the superiority of spinners dictate the middle overs?
Gone is the trend of captains looking to restrict batsmen in the middle-overs. Getting wickets is the new buzz. Consequently, teams deploy a middle-over enforcer, a hit-the-deck seamer. Pakistan have the impeccable Haris Rauf. India often resort to Jasprit Bumrah, or when in the side, Mohammed Shami. But India, more than any other team, have relied on their spinners to pocket wickets in this phase. It’s a ploy that has made rich dividends, as India boast the best strike rate between the 11th and 40th overs (28.09) among all teams this year. In contrast, Pakistan had to wait 43.62 balls for a wicket during this span.