M. S. Dhoni had an important decision to make. Chennai Super Kings had 17 to defend in the final over against Delhi Capitals but his death bowler Dwayne Bravo had pulled up unfit.
Dhoni had to pick one of the two available, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja or leg-spinner Karn Sharma for over No. 20.
On strike were two left-handers, the mercurial Shikhar Dhawan, who had just completed a hundred, and Axar Patel, another southpaw, who can use the long lever.
The situation screamed for Karn but Dhoni opted for Jadeja. After a wide, and then a single by Dhawan, Axar smashed Jadeja for six, six, two and six to close out the humdinger in Delhi’s favour.
The left-handers simply had to hit Jadeja with the turn, and if they connected, a six was always on the cards. Leg-spinner Karn, who has a googly in his repertoire, could have spun the ball away from the left-handers, forcing them to hit against the turn and a miscued hit was always on the cards.
The leg-spinners, otherwise, have been buzzing in the ongoing IPL. You could see the joy on legend Anil Kumble’s visage when Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin, both leggies, bowled with craft and heart for Kings XI Punjab.
Bishnoi, imparts revs on the ball and gets the sphere to fizz off the pitch. Apart from the leg-break, he has the googly and the top-spinner.
Ashwin has a slight rock-back and a pause in his action that enables him to spot the batsman’s initial movement. He is a much improved bowler, operating with greater control and turning the ball both ways. Both Bishnoi and Ashwin have not been averse to flighting the ball.
While more established stars such as Hyderabad’s dazzling Rashid Khan, with his exotic bag of tricks, and Bangalore’s Yuzvendra Chahal, with his side-spin and the ability to get the ball to skid off the surface — his wrong’un to castle Vijay Shankar was a beauty — have been influential, Mumbai’s Rahul Chahar has impressed with his precision and top-spin.
These leg-spinners have been humming all right.