Prasanna’s tip sees fruition in Nadeem’s success

With 33 wickets so far, Jharkhand captain and left arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem is enjoying a breakout season of sorts. While some of those wickets have been bought by spin basics — flight, turn and variations in pace — batsmen have been bamboozled with a novel delivery, that has taken seven years in the making.

In Jharkhand's third match of this Ranji season, Assam batsman Tarjinder Singh had appeared to get the better of the left-arm-spinner Shahbaz Nadeem. With Nadeem bowling from around the wicket, Singh waited to see whether the ball pitched outside off stump and if it did let the ball spin away from the wicket.

He knew the chances of the ball going straight on through an arm ball were remote for Nadeem was bowling with a side arm action. "The problem with the arm ball is that when it is released, the palm faces the batsman. So a good player can read it off the hand," explains Nadeem.

After a few balls had gone the same way, Nadeem bowled a delivery he had been practicing for nearly seven years — bowled side arm. Singh lifted his bat confidently out of the way but watched shocked as the ball continued coming into him while keeping low. Hit on the pads, he was plumb lbw.

Nadeem clarifies the delivery isn't a doosra. "It is more of a back spinner. It is the left arm spinner's flipper," he says. The ball itself isn't his own invention but rather that of Erapalli Prasanna. Nadeem recalls that he was struggling to come up with a variation at the NCA spin academy as a 16-year-old, when Prasanna came up to him with a suggestion. "Kuch alag phenkega kya?" he had said.

Like the left armers stock delivery the new delivery was bowled with a side arm action. But while the index finger and middle finger would provide all the turning momentum for the former ball, the new ball has the thumb imparting the spin while the middle finger acts mostly as a support. "The backspin on the ball makes it stay low and on a turning wicket with sufficient thumb action, the ball can come in as well," says Nadeem.

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