At the recently concluded U-19 World Cup in South Africa, one of the highlights was seeing a wily Indian spinner operate in unfamiliar conditions and leave opposition players in a pickle. With an unusually long run-up, the youngster made merry with leg breaks that beat the outside of the opposition batsmen, or with googlies that fiercely rammed into the pads to catch them plumb in front of the wicket.
The bowler in question is none other than Kings XI Punjab’s recent acquisition Ravi Bishnoi, who was the leading wicket-taker in this tournament. While Bishnoi is revered today as a deceptive spinner, he used to be a medium-pace bowler until not so long ago. Infact, that is the reason behind his unusually longish run-up and uncharacteristically quicker through the air style of bowling.
“Despite switching from pace to spin, I kept that flow of a medium pacer intact and I bowl my googlies quicker than most other leg spinners. That’s been an added factor in me getting wickets,” revealed Bishnoi in an interview with KXIP.in.
Trapping them in front
At the U-19 World Cup, nine out of Bishnoi’s 17 wickets were either bowled or LBW, with his sharp googlies inadvertently rushing onto the batsmen when they tried to play the leggie off the back foot. He was equally lethal with his leg breaks, enticing the batsman forward only to beat the outside edge and end up being stumped on four occasions.
“The idea is to try and play with the mind of the batsman, deceive him with my variations,” starts off Ravi Bishnoi, giving an insight into few tricks of the trade that helped him accumulate two Man of the Match accolades at the U-19 World Cup.
“I don’t want to give the batsman what he expects. If I start off with two-three leg breaks, then the batsman is ready for those types of deliveries, that’s when I bowl the googly. If they then anticipate the googlies, that’s when I bowl the leg breaks. It is all about playing with the mind of the batsman,” added the spinner from Rajasthan.
Just like Anil Kumble
Bishnoi also credits India A coach Rahul Dravid for his successful U-19 World Cup, as it was his advice that helped the leggie in this tournament. “Rahul sir told me that I bowl quicker through the air just like Anil Kumble, so I should focus on my accuracy because if I bowl short or outside the stumps, it could be an easy boundary,” said Ravi Bishnoi while going on to add, “I was advised to bowl stump to stump and make the batsman play all six deliveries. That piece of advice helped me a lot at the World Cup.”
It was that ingenuity and variety that helped Bishnoi emerge as the leading wicket-taker of the tournament on the pitches of South Africa which have historically been the fast bowler’s paradise. With plenty more tricks in his bag and some valuable international experience, one can now expect big things from Bishnoi in the months to come.