Oomph back in orthodox
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The third day of the Test at Galle and the final day of the one at Motera had a similar script. Sri Lanka won by 10 wickets, India by 9 with left-arm spinners having a field day. Rangana Herath finished the game with 11 wickets, Pragyan Ojha had 9.
The Kiwis wished Daniel Vettori wasn't at home injured, the English regretted leaving out their own southpaw, Monty Panesar. Suddenly, left-arm spinners were the flavour of season — with Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan very much in the mix.
Spotlight on Herath and Ojha meant it was a comeback of the least-glamourous of all spin variations. In the modern day game, off-spinners (with their doosras, teesras and carrom balls) and the leg-spinners (wristy and googlies) get more eye-balls and wickets.
Like all pure left-arm spinners, Ojha and Herath needed time for the success of their long-drawn plans. No one had patience for them. Playing second fiddle to senior offies — Muttiah Muralitharan and Harbhajan Singh — who constantly pushed the envelope to enhance their arsenal, the left-armers didn't get enough overs to spread their web.
With Murali's retirement and Harbhajan's loss of form coinciding, MS Dhoni and Mahela Jayawardene are now ready to indulge the workman spinners. And the offies were not missed.
Right-handed batsmen dread this tribe as it's always tough to connect the ball that moves away, more so when it has drifted in before that. Best in the business have been made to look like amateurs by slow left-arm orthodox bowlers. (Refer to 'Pietersen b Ojha' twice on Motera's scoreboard).
Left-arm spinners rarely figure on all-time great lists. But they bring a layer of intrigue to the field that makes the cricket narrative richer.
Uncluttered left-arm spin also happens to be viewer-friendly and simple to understand. An armer is easy on the untrained eyes as compared to a doosra or a carrom ball.