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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Indian Left-arm Slow Bowlers

Recently, there was a news-item that rocked the Indian cricket world - Maninder Singh caught with cocaine in his house. I feel he must be the most talented left-arm spinner to have played for India since Bishan Bedi. A look at the left-arm spinners who played for India in test matches since Bishan Bedi include:

Dilip Doshi - He was one of the mainstays of India's spin attack after the decline of the Great4 (Bedi, Chandra, Pras, Venkat). He took 114 wickets in 33 tests that he played for India. He had 6 five-wicket hauls in test matches (one of which was in the memorable FIRST test of the SriLankans). He was not much of a batsman and it was a signal to the opposition team that there was a easy wicket to be had, when Doshi came to the crease. He faded away though he could have played for a much longer time. He was probably the ONLY spinner for India who made his debut in a test match after he was 30+. He is currently based in England and his son is playing for Surrey in the English County.

Ravi Shastri - Though he played more of a opening batsman later in his career - his bowling in the ODI against Australia on the traditionally fast Perth where he took 5 wickets!!! Kapil,Prabhakar and Srinath had managed to restrict Australia to 68-5 when Shastri came into bowl on the fast bowler-friendly WACA pitch and took the next 5 wickets to ensure that Australia was all out for 101. This was mainly due to the hara-kiri attitude by the Aussies, who tried to hit their way out and holed out to Shastri's gentle bowling. The 1985 World Championship was another tournament where he played havoc with his allround performance, being named the "Champion of Champions". His batting (opening with Krish Srikkanth) and left-spin bowling (the one to bowl 10 overs in India's matches) was one of the major strengths of the Indian team. He is also well known for his six 6's in one over in a Ranji match of the bowling of Tilak Raj - equalling Gary Sobers record against Malcolm Nash. 1985 Overall, he was one of the successful opening batsmen after Sunil Gavaskar retired. But in ODI's later in his career, he contributed in the lower order with vital scores.

Maninder Singh - As mentioned earlier, easily the most talented but somehow again didnt live up the initial hype like Sivaramakrishnan. The match where he really shined was the one against Pakistan at Bangalore when he took 7 wickets in the first innings to skittle out Pakistan for a paltry score(Sunil Gavaskar played a wonderful 2nd innings knock in his last test match). Unfortunately, India lost the match, losing the series to Pakistan. For a long time, this was the last series that India had lost at home until Cronje's South Africans and defeated them. Maninder Singh went on to become a commentator and an umpire. Well known for his part in the Tied Test match when India requiring one run to win in 3 balls, was dismissed by Matthews LBW. Couldnt win the match for India with his bat!!! He was in the middle of another great 1987 World Cup ODI match against Australia in Chennai at the same stadium again. India required 4 to win with 2 balls to go and Maninder was on strike, when he tried to hit Steve Waugh out of the ground and got bowled.

Venkatapathi Raju - There was this one Test-match against Sri Lanka where he tormented them on a spinning track. India won this match by an innings despite scoring only 288. He was one of the bowlers who with Anil Kumble made India win all those matches against England, Zimbabwe at home. This was the time when Azharuddin was the captain and there used to be 3 spinners in the Indian team (Anil Kumble, Raju and Chauhan). His other main strength was to offer lower-order resistance even while being injured. His last test was against Australia - the great VVS Test at Eden Gardens. He has now become a national selector.

Sunil Joshi - Saved the blushes for India against Bangladesh's First-ever test match, with a fine all-round performance. Won a ODI match against South Africa in Nairobi with wonderful figures of 10-6-6-5 at a time when SA, under Cronje used to be in top 2 of ODI cricket. He somehow couldnt manage to live upto his reputation of a bowling allrounder though has been playing consistently for the state side.

Murali Karthik - He of the colored locks fame, has been in and out of Indian ODI and test teams. Managed to pick up a MOM against the Aussies in 2004 at Mumbai . But, again looks to be a bit over-hyped. Suffered shoulder injuries because of which he couldnt play much in the last season.

Raghuram Bhat - played against Pakistan for 2-3 test matches. - A Ranji Giant for Karnataka but couldnt do much in test cricket.

Nilesh Kulkarni - debuted in the match where Jayasuriya scored a 300!!! Still playing for Mumbai in Ranjis, waiting for the elusive break again to international cricket, which will not happen for sure.

Rahul Sanghvi - Played one test in the memorable 2001 series against Australia.

I have tried to list bowlers who were specialists (though some might disagree with Ravi Shastri. This list doesnt include players like Karsan Ghavri (who used to bowl seam and spin) and part-timers like WV Raman, Yuvraj Singh, Hemang Badani, Sriram, etc.)
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