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World No.1 in the ICC T20 Bowler rankings, Samuel Badree is one of the leg-spinners who doesn’t rely on flight and is comfortable bowling with the new ball. Inducted into the Chennai Super Kings side ahead of Pepsi Indian Premier League 2014, he is hoping to showcase his skills in the tournament.
He believes that a leg-spinner is an attacking option and can get wickets. He can also help dry up the flow of runs. Although he didn’t elaborate on the weapons in his arsenal, rest assured he has a few up his sleeve to get the job done.
While waiting for an opportunity to take the field, Badree has been busy working on his skills and learning from his teammates. Bowling to the likes of MS Dhoni in the nets helps him explore and work on options when he gets to bowl to similar batsmen. He is impressed with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin’s ability to remain unfazed and stick to his plans. While speaking to IPLT20.com, he said, “He is not fazed by anyone. I think that goes to show his confidence in his abilities and his belief in himself. I have learnt a lot from that.”
Badree, who argues that leg-spin is a not a dying art, spoke about his craft and his role in the team ahead of CSK’s match against the Delhi Daredevils on May 5.
Excerpts from his interview:
How do you see leg-spin in T20 cricket? Do you get encouraged by watching the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Pravin Tambe succeed in the tournament?
Leg-spin has its role in T20 cricket. Those guys have variety – leg-spinner, top-spinner and googly as well. These guys are attacking bowlers, and in Twenty20 cricket, getting wickets is important. As long as you have guys who can get you wickets, you are in a good position.
What is your strength?
My strength is accuracy and consistency; trying to bowl as many dot balls as possible and keeping the batsmen under pressure. Making the batsmen play outside their comfort zone and having them come at the opposition team. Like I said, I am accurate, I am reasonably successful within the powerplay overs and that has been my strength throughout the years.
How has bowling at the likes of MS Dhoni in the nets helped you?
It lets you try different things. When you come in to bowl in a situation like that (against batsmen like that), you can explore different options. They have been wonderful in terms of giving me experience, letting me know what type of field to set against different batsmen, so it has been wonderful playing with those guys so far.
What is your stock delivery?
My stock delivery is my leg-spin. I bowl a lot of top-spinners as well as ones that skid. I have a few deliveries up my arsenal and I bowl according to the situation depending on who is batting.
Does seeing Pravin Tambe succeed and Shahbaz Nadeem got some turn at the Ferozeshah Kotla give you confidence?
Yes. These guys are a bit different from me. They probably bowl when the ball is a bit older. I normally bowl up front with the new ball, so that’s a bit different. So to compare myself with them would not be quite accurate. The pitch here seems to be dry, but the outfield is small. So taking all things into consideration, we have a good balanced team as well. So you never know.
Flight is a key aspect for leg-spin and it can get you a wicket but it can also cost you runs. How do work on using it?
What you bowl depends on the stage of the game. If the team requires wickets, then you obviously try to do that. If it is a situation where you need dot balls to create pressure, you bowl accordingly. It depends on the situation of the game as well. If you are bowling in the powerplay, it is difficult to give the ball a lot of flight because then you have only two men outside the circle. So it depends on the situation of the game – when you are bowling and who you are bowling to.
What do you usually try – taking wickets or restricting the batsmen?
It is important that you get wickets all the way through. It’s a bit of both. It depends on whether you are bowling first or defending a total.
Within CSK there are top of the line bowlers like off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and part-timers like Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina. What is your role?
Obviously, if I am given the opportunity, it will be up front with the new ball within the powerplay, trying to get early wickets. If not, at best, minimise the amount of runs that are scored in the powerplay. That will be my role essentially.
What are the attributes that you will take from Ashwin and Sunil Narine?
I have learnt a lot from Ashwin. He is a smart guy. He assesses the situation quickly. He assesses the batsman’s strengths and sets aggressive fields to him. He is not fazed by any situation. So no matter who is batting, he has his plan and he works accordingly. He is not fazed by anyone. I think that goes to show his confidence in his abilities and his belief in himself. I have learnt a lot from that.
Sunil Narine has always been consistent. He is a mystery spinner. His reputation precedes him. So a lot of guys are afraid of him and that works in his favour. Other guys don’t try to take him on and rightly so because he is an exceptional bowler.
How do you see yourself with a variety of mystery spinners coming into the fray now?
You have to keep evolving in Twenty20 cricket. You can’t be predictable otherwise batsmen are going to come after you. You need to keep working on your game and try to develop new strategies and techniques. There is also a bit of luck involved. Sometimes you bowl a good ball and it goes for four and you bowl a bad ball and get a wicket. There are a lot of dynamics involved. You have to keep working on your game.
Do you believe leg-spin is a dying art?
I don’t really think so. We have bowlers like Amit Mishra and Chahal from RCB, who has the best economy rate in the tournament so far. I do think there is a role for leg-spin in any format. It is an attacking option; these guys get you wickets and that’s very important in Twenty20 cricket.
How much do you enjoy bowling on Indian pitches?
It is good. They are helpful to the spinners. Whenever I get the opportunity, I relish it.
Fast bowlers are expected to be tall and imposing personalities who can glare down at batsman. But Mohammed Shami is quite the opposite. One has rarely seen the wiry pacer glare at or exchange words with batsmen. Soft spoken and humble, Shami has gone about his tasks with quiet determination. Not just with the ball, Shami has also shown patience with the bat to hold up one end while helping the other batsman add runs.
His ability to take up a challenge and come up trumps has been evident since his childhood days when he was still finding his feet in the gentleman’s game. In his very first match while playing with the leather ball, Shami was sent to open the innings by his elder brother. The result – Shami struck a century and later picked up three wickets to round up a good outing on the field.
In an exclusive interview with IPLT20.com in Delhi, Shami spoke about his game, his admiration for Dale Steyn, his desire to reverse the ball like Wasim Akram and his wish to emulate Zaheer Khan’s line and length.
Excerpts from his interview:
When did you first play with the leather ball?
I think I was in ninth standard when my elder brother (who was also a fast bowler) let me play with him for the first time. I was a bowler too but I didn’t even know how to grip the ball. My brother made me bat in that game and sent me to open the innings. I remember being scared when I walked out in the middle to bat. I still remember the delivery that touched my bat and zipped past, I gained confidence from then on. I scored 103 runs and picked up three wickets later. Having said that, I had no idea about technique or what line and length means while bowling.
When did you first come to terms with pressure in a competitive game?
The semifinal against Tamil Nadu in a Syed Mushtaq Ali match. I was given the ball and asked to defend nine runs in the last over. At that time, I realised what responsibility and pressure is all about.
Do you remember your first wicket in domestic cricket?
I think it was during my debut against Assam in the Ranji Trophy. Amol Muzumdar used to play for Assam back then and I claimed his wicket.
Still early days in your international cricketing career but is there a wicket that you claimed you cherish the most?
Representing India in ODIs, I played in a lot of tight matches. I remember the ODI series against Australia in 2013. The wickets I took in my first game of the series at Ranchi have been the best for me so far. Getting the wickets of quality batsmen like Shane Watson and Aaron Finch during the series was good. The deliveries I bowled to them seemed the best to me.
You have played with Zaheer Khan and had an opportunity to work with Wasim Akram who are amongst the best exponents of swing bowling. What have you learnt from your interactions with them?
For both of them, pace is the most important aspect with line and length and swing to follow. It means a lot for a youngster like me when senior fast bowlers share that kind of knowledge.
Zaheer bhai tells me, ‘Don’t let your pace drop and keep your line and length in control. It shouldn’t happen in the pursuit of pace that you stray in line and length. And then (if you have control over those aspects), you have a good chance to extract swing as well.’
Wasim bhai also tells me that swing is important for a bowler. I keep their inputs in mind and keep working on them.
You have been reversing the ball and getting wickets. How have you worked towards it?
When I began playing, I didn’t know much about it, but when I started playing domestic cricket and played with senior players, I was able to get a handle on things. The SG Test ball swings well and also reverses. And then upon meeting a lot of seniors, including Zaheer bhai and Wasim bhai, I have always tried to learn something from everyone, and I will continue to do so.
If you had to take one thing from Zaheer Khan and Wasim Akram, what will it be?
From Wasim - Reverse swing, and from Zaheer - line and length.
Who has influenced your bowling the most?
Currently, I like Dale Steyn. Earlier, I would admire Pakistan’s pace attack. I would adore Pakistan’s bowling attack that had the likes of Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram. Now with God’s grace, I get to meet them and talk to them.
Who has been the most difficult to bowl to?
I had the most problem while bowling to my Delhi Daredevils captain, Kevin Pietersen. He is tall and shuffles a lot in the crease. You bowl a bouncer to him, it ends up being too short and he would hit you immediately. If you pitch it up, he has such a long stride that he can reach the ball and drive it. So you have to judge the line and length correctly. The ODI series against England was the most difficult for me.
So now, are you happy that you don’t have to bowl at him?
Now, I am ready for anyone. I am working all the time to improve.
What are you working on currently?
The Test series in England is in sight but right now, the focus is on the IPL. So here I am working on where to bowl the Yorker and work on bowling at the right line and length.
What has it been like to work with DD’s coach Gary Kirsten?
This is the first time I am working with him. He is good and always gives valuable inputs on how to get better.
You also have Eric Simons in the Daredevils setup who has been working with bowlers for a long time. What has your interactions with him been like?
I have always wanted to speak to Eric Simons and TA Sekar and I got that opportunity this time representing DD. I have been working with Simons who has a great insight on bowling. He notices your bowling and tells you where you are going wrong and how to work on them. He is also giving me good inputs on getting the Yorkers right.
Since you started playing, which coach has had the most influence on you?
I want to learn something from everyone. In the Indian team, we have Joe Dawes and Duncan Fletcher who help a lot. They don’t put you under pressure and they handle things well. They explain well and show you what needs to be done, which feels good.