Cricket

Published on March 25th, 2017 | by Suraj Choudhari

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Fortune favours the brave Imran Tahir

Just as any other game, luck plays a colossal role in cricket as well. Despite doing everything needed to make it to a side, many times, a player does happen to miss out due to odd circumstances. In cricket, there are a handful of players who perform well and chisel their path to a side. This is no luck but sheer hard work. But, there is also a few who don’t vindicate their place and yet relish a protracted unjust run. And there is Imran Tahir, who was at the pinnacle of the ICC ODI and T20I rankings yet failed to fetch a single buyer at the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions.

A mistimed shoulder injury to Mitchell Marsh during the India tour paved way for Tahir in the Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) for the forthcoming season. Luck, destiny or coincidence? You can call it whatever you want, but Tahir deserves a place in any IPL side. Tahir had a modest base price of 50 lakhs, for a ranked 1 bowler against the white ball in the IPL auctions. The fact that he went unsold in the auctions might have rooted Tahir to the spot the next morning.

It must have been frustrating for someone, who was and is still ruling the charts but was denied a spot in a single team. To add to his woes, a few days prior to the IPL auctions, Tahir also recorded his finest T20I performance, chipping his maiden fifer against New Zealand. On the back of an astounding performance, Tahir was expected to hit big at the IPL auctions, but things didn’t turn out as desired for him. With India being a spin-friendly arena to play in, Tahir’s exclusion was no less than a bolt from the blue.

However, things have changed for the wily bowler, his late inclusion in the RPS side is nothing but a testament to the fact that fortune favours the brave. Tahir can rip apart a batting line-up and win games single-handedly on his day. He infuses energy just like he exhibits it while celebrating a wicket off his bowling; a celebratory run, which is more than a fast bowler’s run-up. Making it to the top is a herculean task for any bowler, and to do it in both the formats is astronomical. It demands consistency, which has been Tahir’s Achilles’ heels. But he has improved as a white ball bowler and his career graph is now on a hike.

Talking about the spinners in the RPS dug-out, they currently have the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Adam Zampa, Ankit Sharma and Tahir in the squad. With Ashwin expected to play most of the games provided he is fit, RPS will face a conundrum between Zampa and Tahir. Zampa caught many eyeballs with his wily leg-spin and did a noteworthy job in the previous edition. Tahir, on the other hand, formed a formidable spin attack with Amit Mishra for the Delhi Daredevils last year in his sporadic appearances.

Leg-spinners are wicket-takers, at times they might go for runs, but they mean business. A skipper needs to persist with leg-spinners in order to reap fruitful results out of them. Tahir has enough variations up in his sleeves and can wreak havoc if the conditions assist. He has groomed well as a leg-spinner and has a deceiving google in his artillery, which is also considered to be his ultimate weapon. He is a kind of a bowler, who can conjure back-to-back wickets and change the complex of the match in no time, which is priceless in T20 format.

If conditions assists, RPS can opt for three spinners if not two, which will in all likeliness be Ashwin, Zampa and Tahir. Zampa did extremely well in the previous edition and has been improving with every outing. RPS can tinker their chances between the two, which will also build up a healthy competition between them to perform. The three arch spinners are different in their own way and bring a lot of variation and stability to the table. Ashwin’s effectiveness with an orthodox off-spin along with canny carrom balls is well-known, while Zampa has banked heavily on his stock deliveries and immaculate control over his line and length.

Tahir, on the other hand, gets some zip and also gets the ball to grip with his stock deliveries apart from the wide range of variations that he possesses. And not to forget, the extensive experience of playing in different conditions, the seasoned 37-year old carries. If these three are in action together for any side, the opposition will have a tough time in breaking the shackles against the series of web that they will spin around them.

Tahir carries some impressive numbers to his name across formats, especially with the white leather. In 20 Tests, Tahir has 57 wickets to his name, whereas in 74 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), he has bagged 127 wickets at 23.65. Tahir has had a good run in the shortest format of uncertainties, where he scalped 54 wickets in 31 outings at a profound average of just over 13. With the balance of the game currently being heavily twisted in the favour of batsmen, an economy of under 7 T20Is is considered praiseworthy. Tahir’s economy of 6.38 and 4.63 in T20Is and ODIs respectively is a testament to his prowess with ball in hand. To add to Tahir’s good fortunes, he has fared well since the start of 2016, picking 27 wickets at 11.62.

Though Tahir does not have enough IPL games under his belt to boost off (just 20 in his career), but he is a different bowler at present with a greater impact. His inclusion has surely given RPS some depth and stability, which will come in handy during the course of 14 games in the league stages. As of now, Tahir has a task in hand in the IPL and has to prove why he is among the best.

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About the Author

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Suraj Choudhari is a freelance sports journalist. He is an avid follower of the game and played the sport at club level. With a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, he tries to express it through paper and pen.



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