Spinners have become a valuable commodity in limited overs cricket
Along with their ability to set the score rate in the medium overs, which was a great asset for any ODI captain, many teams prefer to run two spinners in a tandem during the episode.
Earlier, however, spinners were seen as a tactic to control the flow of runs and tighten matters, but their role in modern cricket has developed considerably. Spinners are now starting to emerge as real wicket-taking alternatives, with most of them also bowling in powerplay and death overs.
With their increased significance in ODI cricket, we take a look at the top eight spinners in the format. We did this by picking them at four different levels.
Mitchell Santner – New Zealand
Mitchell Santner may not be the highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket, but he has played an important role for the Blackcaps, with a slight difference.
The left-armed Orthodox spinner may have only 1 wicket for an ODI2 ODI, although his value is much higher than that number. A gun fielder in the outfield and a batsman under the order, Santner is adept at blocking runs for the opposition.
The economy-rate of his career is only 4.99, quite impressive and he has a chance to come up with the clutch mantra when the blackcaps are the most counted. One only has to look at his 2-34 performance against India in the semi-finals of the 2012 World Cup, which paved the way for the sensational Blackcaps to win.
With the bowling style of New Zealand legend Daniel Vettori, Santner relies more on his dip and gills to keep the batsmen. He is not the biggest turner of any extended ball but he knows how to hit the right place like every time.
Adam Zampa – Australia
Adam Jampa, an under-rated spinner, has been able to establish himself as an important element of Australia’s bowling attack for the past 18 months or more. Finding a replacement like Shane Warne in Australia means Jumpa will never get the recognition he deserves, although leg-spinners have done a great job for limited-overs teams in recent times.
Indian superstar Virat Kohli must have his wood on top and he fired him on five separate occasions. The 26-year-old could spin as sharply as Warne or Stuart McGill, but he did his part with some clever bowling.
Equipped with a good flipper and a googly, the jumper always patents him to attack the stumps to put him in a good place. He has taken 32 wickets for Australia since the start of 2012, despite playing most of the cricket in unnecessary games for spinners. He imagines himself fighting against any batsman in the world and is the perfect complement to Australia’s strong pace attack.
Adil Rashid – England
Although he did not get a place in the England Test squad, Adil Rashid remains inseparable with their limited overs format. The leg-spinner has all of the great spinners made, the sharp turns, the flight and the googly in his arsenal are hard to read. However, like many wrist-spinners, he has a habit of giving a loose ball in every over which gives the batsmen a chance to get rid of the pressure.
The red ball for England may be the cause of this deficit, but the white ball is more forgivable. Rashid was licensed to attack for a wicket in a limited overs format as England’s impressive batting unit was able to chase any total run.
He has done well with 699 wickets in the last 44 ODIs for England. He was instrumental in England winning the 2012 World Cup and took important wickets during that campaign. Although he can concede some runs in the process, Rashid guaranteed wickets in the ODI format where batsmen are more inclined to attack him.
Shadab Khan – Pakistan
Still just 21, Shadab Khan has already experienced 43 ODIs for Pakistan. After his exploitation as a teenager in Pakistan’s 2017 Champions Trophy-winning campaign, the youngster has established himself as the mainstay of the green men.
A classic leg spinner who can spin the ball sharply, Shadab’s book has all the variations as a limited overs success. After impressive 2018 and 2019, Leggie sank into form last year where his average with the ball was over 41. Still, he has plenty of time to overcome this minor blip and he thinks his past track record should be back on the wicket very soon.
His overall career numbers are still healthy, with 59 wickets at an average of 29.66 and an economy rate of just 5.02. His rising standard as a lower order batsman would require him to be in any Pakistan limited overs XI.
Yuzbendra Chahal – India
In the case of legspinners, there is nothing better than business than Yuzbendra Chahal. The late Bloomer, following in Chahal’s footsteps, came to the Indian team after some consistent performances in the Indian Premier League in Royal Challengers Bangalore.
It didn’t take long for Chahal to get a foothold in international cricket with Kuldeep Yadav for a great wrist-spin partnership. Originally after gaining his skills in the IPL, the 29-year-old has added all sorts of variations to his arsenal, including this subtle googly.
However, he is not afraid to blow up the ball that made India such a success. 91 wickets in just 52 matches at an average of 25.3 matches is a great record for any ODI bowler. In addition to his bowling skills with the new ball, he has also become a great asset to India captain Virat Kohli in the death overs.
Mujib Ur Rahman – Afghanistan
Mujib Ur Rehman is one of the brightest young talents in cricket with the ICC ODI rankings at No. 3. At just 19 years old, the Afghan teenager already has a great reputation as a hard-to-pick mystery spinner.
He made a name for himself by leading Afghanistan to the historic U-19 Asia Cup title, which led him to a lucrative IPL deal with Kings XI Punjab in 2018. Although the off-spinner can be his stock delivery, the Afghan man can also leg-ball. Spin and googlys with very similar verbs.
This mystery has seen him develop into one of the most economical bowlers in the circuit. In 40 ODIs, Mujib has maintained an economic rate of just 3.94 and assisted himself by 633 wickets. The teenagers were one of the rare bright sparks of Afghanistan’s disappointing 2019 World Cup campaign, where they failed to win a single game.
Along with him and Rashid Khan, Afghanistan has one of the youngest and strongest spin attacks in the world.
Rashid Khan – Afghanistan
When it comes to limited overs spinners, Rashid Khan has no reputation. The leg-spinner, ranked first in the T20 format, is equally effective in the 50-over version.
In just one ODI for Afghanistan, Rashid has taken 133 wickets at an outstanding average of just 16.54. He is the biggest superstar in the country and the most controversial spinner in the business of T20 franchise cricket.
The 21-year-old guaranteed wickets every time on the field, and he was rarely taken for a run. With an ODI-economy rate of just 4.16, the differences have made him a tough bowler in attack.
What makes Rashid tick is the batting of the great leg-spinners bowling at speed, not giving the batsmen time to read his delivery. He has a deadly googly in his hand that raises more doubts in the batsmen’s heads.
Kuldeep Yadav – India
Showing left-armed wrist-spinner in motion is always a great outlook and Kuldeep Yadav provides this rarity in cricket with some aplomb.
The 25-year-old is an authentic wicket-taker and has 104 scalps in 60 ODIs for India. Unlike his spin partner Chahal, Kuldeep does not hesitate to fly the ball in large quantities and also has the ability to sink sharply.
Like all modern wrist-spinners, Kuldeep has a clever disguise in his arsenal and as a result of this change he got his 104 wickets. Apart from Rashid Khan (106), no other bowler has taken more wickets than Kuldeep since his debut for India in 2013.
Lots of cricket will still come for Kuldeep, and he will only get better with some more experience under his belt. A lot of times, he lets the pressure get better and he can turn into a complete beast by doing something in his mood.
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