Friday, March 31, 2006

On the bowling of Ramesh Powar

I have a piece on the maverick Indian off-spin bowler Ramesh Powar up on the cricket blog Different Strokes today. Here's the first paragraph:
Ramesh Powar is that rare thing: the genuinely slow bowler, someone whose bowling never quite "arrives". One knows that Powar is a tease even before he rolls his arm over: the substantial Powar waistline, the zany red Powar sunglasses, the glimmer of a Powar grin that appears on the ten-step Powar gambol to the wicket, all convey to the batsman the air of a seriously unserious cricketer having a bit of a lark. But there is no harm in all this. Spin bowling, after all, is basically about subterfuge.

The whole piece is here.


Salil said...

A very enjoyable read - that particular paragraph captured and described the laissez-faire aura around Powar very accurately.
I'd blogged some time ago about the merits of picking Powar for the ODI squad. I'm not optimistic that he'll be picked for tests anytime soon, but I've got my fingers crossed and hope that he turns in a couple of similar performances with the ball in the next few ODIs. If that's the case, it'll be very hard for him to be left out of the tour to the Windies, especially with the way he's been picking up wickets for Mumbai lately.

I also agree on the maverick comment you made about Powar. As I wrote here, it was "a pleasant change from Muralitharan and Harbhajan, as far as off spin is concerned. No doosras, no top spinners, no deliveries ripping across from outside off to leg." This wasn't about giving the ball as much turn as possible or bowling three or four different deliveries in an over, it was a throwback to classical off spin in the manner of Prasanna. Since Saqlain, modern off spin has been about variety, more speed off the wicket and sharper turn. Players like Shoaib Malik and Alex Loudon have picked up the 'doosra' and it's become common to see offies these days bowl quicker and try to beat batsmen off the wicket with turn and variation, rather than in the air.

After seeing this sort of bowling dominate for so long, it was a delight to see Powar floating it up, taunting Strauss, Pietersen and Flintoff to charge him and making the ball dip and drift to bamboozle them. I just hope that the team management realises what sort of player they have here, and perserveres with him. At 28, with his batting and bowling capabilities, Powar has a lot to offer Indian cricket - I just hope the selectors/think tanks realise his value and don't let him drift away if he has a bad performance or two.

Rohit said...

I wasn't totally convinced by your post on Powar until I watched his peformance today. The man is a fiend- wily as an old coyote with a cheeky grin to match. Having re-read the post, I can see where you're coming from a little better- the flighty and excruciatingly slow pace of the ball, its languid trajectory enticing batsmen's gleaming eyes and then the cheeky little dip or movement in mid-flight as if to say you can't catch me now. He's done a brilliant job so far.

Nikhil Pahwa said...

I was quite surprised when he was dropped after the Pakistan tour.

I wonder, though, how effective he would be outside the subcontinent, where pitches don't afford him enough turn to beat the bat. Or, for that matter, on flat wickets where batsmen can play him on the back foot. Still, he seems the kind of bowler who will adjust to the conditions. Is he a finger-spinner or a wrist-spinner?

Another impressive spinner, a left armer in this case, who used to give the ball slow flight and got the kind of dip that Powar manages, is Rahul Sanghvi. In the U-19 WC, Suresh Raina's left arm spin was quite impressive as well.

Salil said...

Powar's a finger spinner.

I feel that his bowling style might make him very effective on unresponsive wickets; moreso than Harbhajan and Kumble. Both rely on turn, bounce and variations of it; Powar uses flight far more to deceive batsmen. There are plenty of pitches that offer little off the track to help spinners and Powar's ability to consistently beat batsmen in the air could make a difference on those.

It's a similar case with Daniel Vettori (another fantastic bowler whose statistics - in my book - don't reflect his ability as one of the world's finest finger spinners). Vettori spends most tests bowling on unresponsive tracks, but has a far better record than many other spinners might on such wickets, simply because he has almost impeccable control over his flight and pace, which does get him wickets even when the pitch is doing very little.