Titans wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi was the leading wicket-taker in the Momentum One-Day Cup. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – Each and every leg-spinner knows there are going to be days when the ball does not “whizz” through the air and rip off the surface when it leaves the hand.

The days when the long-hop is more common than the googly and the full toss more frequent than the flipper… It is on such grim days that a “leggie” preys for the patience of the captain.

Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who have been terrorising South Africa’s batsmen throughout this ongoing ODI series, have been assured of this should it materialise.

“They might get hit for 70-odd in the next game. But there is no problem in that because you know that if they bowl attacking lines, then they will end up picking up two-three wickets every game,” India captain Virat Kohli said after his spin twins’ latest demolition job at Newlands on Wednesday night, when they claimed eight wickets between them.

“Every over they might pick up two wickets – that is the kind of belief they have in their abilities. The team has a belief in them, the team is backing them.”

India’s spin twins have certainly benefited from the support they have received from their captain and team.

Instead of being viewed with suspicion as a breed whose sole focus is to choke the run-scoring during the middle-overs, they are now strike bowlers with the mandate to look for wickets.

It is the way of the modern ODI, with England employing Adil Rashid in a similar role, while the Proteas’ own Imran Tahir has been doing it superbly for a number of years.

“The thing is very simple,” Kohli said. “They are told to go for wickets at all times. When you are going for wickets, you are bowling in areas that are uncomfortable for the batsmen and more often than not, they end up defending.

“When you bowl wide and try to save runs, then you give an opportunity to take singles also.

“Both are very brave in terms of how they bowl and the kind of fields they want as well. They are very brave tossing the ball (up) and asking the batsman to come out and play a risky shot.

“I think all the credit has to go to them because they’ve executed those lines and lengths perfectly.

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“They’ve always… every over, they’ve asked two or three questions of the batsmen, that is something outstanding. I haven’t seen that before.” 

South Africa’s team management could well take a leaf out of the Indian team’s handbook.

Tabraiz Shamsi is a left-arm chinaman bowler in the same mould as Yadav, and is in dire need of the same type of support structure around him.

Shamsi was the leading wicket-taker in the recent domestic Momentum One-Day Cup and was selected for the second ODI in Centurion.

He only came into the attack after the contest was virtually done, but was subsequently dropped for the next match.

Watching how India have handled their young spinners, and the success they have achieved, there may be a few lessons to be learnt here.


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