Rising Pune Supergiants v Delhi Daredevils, IPL 2016, Vishakapatnam May 17, 2016

A legspinning WG graces Pune attack

If Adam Zampa were a superhero, he would be called The Wicket Gobbler

Adam Zampa has taken 11 wickets in four games for Supergiants at an average of 7.54 © BCCI

If Adam Zampa were a superhero, he would be called The Wicket Gobbler. He is something of an anomaly in Rising Pune Supergiants' campaign. That they have won as many games in IPL 2016 as the number of players they have lost to injury is the tragicomic nugget that describes their season.

But Zampa's numbers are processed in a distant universe to that of Supergiants. His 11 wickets have come from merely four games at an average of 7.54 and an economy rate of 6.38. Among those who have played at least four games for Supergiants, the next best average belongs to Ashok Dinda, who is the only one in the 20s at 21.50.

Ironically, Zampa wasn't a first-choice selection until about 10 days ago, when he emerged as the least scarred of the bowlers mauled by Virat Kohli. As a reward he got another gig where he turned up, prised out six wickets, and even breezed his way through a press conference. Easy-peasy it wasn't though. Zampa bowled at the death, sucker-punching three batsmen in the last over.

Against Delhi Daredevils on Tuesday night, Zampa, who MS Dhoni said brought stability to Supergiants' bowling, was assigned a less strenuous role when he was introduced in the 10th over. Daredevils were 42 for 2, and Karun Nair and Sanju Samson were on restoration duty after yet another lukewarm Powerplay - Delhi have scored fewer than 30 in the first six overs on three occasions now.

The first two balls were generously tossed up and Nair comfortably drilled them through cover for a brace of twos. Zampa went flatter for the next three deliveries, one of which was a googly. Despite Zampa's barnstorming show the other night, Dhoni would have gladly settled for the legspinner playing the containing role, as Daredevils were already playing catch-up. Besides, the bowling unit, led by Ashok Dinda, was already hustling the opponents from one end. This was expected to be one of those quiet, consolidation-oriented middle phases.

Samson, on 10 from 12 balls, saw an opportunity to impose himself based on the evidence of the last three balls, and probably fancied another perfunctory flatter delivery. He jumped out of the crease but Zampa held it back slightly with ample side spin on the ball, and Samson was stumped yards out of his crease.

Zampa then switched ends to bowl the 13th over and by then had his Wicket Gobbler suit on. He sandwiched two tossed up legbreaks with a googly to Nair and Rishabh Pant, and followed them up with a shorter, flatter delivery. Despite the limited weapons at his disposal, Zampa was creating a clever pattern.

The fifth ball was a shorter googly and Pant connected with the pull for two runs. The next delivery was also a googly, but fuller on off stump. Pant, possibly playing for the leg break, attempted a hefty swing over mid-wicket, but the ball descended into Thisara Perera's hands at long-off.

In his next over, Zampa continued with the same assortment of flighted leg-breaks interspersed with flatter ones and googlies, and got his mandatory wicket after Nair missed a sweep. But Zampa's best three deliveries were probably the ones which didn't fetch him a wicket.

In the 17th over, he first bowled a quicker delivery to cramp Chris Morris' hitting range before serving up a loopy leg-break on leg stump that Morris missed. The last delivery was flat and short outside off and Morris' cut had a deep point for protection.

By the time Zampa was through with his spell, Daredevils had stumbled through the middle overs to 81 for 5. On the eve of the match, coach Stephen Fleming sat down with Dhoni and animatedly discussed the notes he was carrying with him. If it was a list of hits and misses of the season then Zampa would surely figure high up in the first category.

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sowmi on May 18, 2016, 10:21 GMT

    Definitely looks like a potential great limited overs bowler. His run up is certainly reminiscent of Warne but his bowling is more like a Samuel Badree. Looks like he is more of a bowler that relies on his variations of pace and subtle changes rather than big turn. One strange thing is that his average in the domestic structure in Australia is 50. Even in this IPL most of his wickets have been when batsman have tried going after him not when they have been defending. In test cricket it is necessary to take wickets when proper test batsman are defending. That being said his control over the ball is exceptional and he hardly seems to bowl wides or full tosses and it remains to be seen whether he can replicate this form in red ball cricket.

  • sayakb0114950 on May 18, 2016, 8:49 GMT

    The spinning arena had become too dull once Ajmal was banned. While Lyon and Ashwin are fine spinners, they don't have that spark which puts you on your toes when a spinner comes to bowl. With Zampa , I hope I am not too early to say that the boredom is about to be broken. I can feel the anticipation, the anxiety which I felt when I saw Warne, Murli and to some extent Kumble bowl. Cricket seriously needs good leg spinners to be exciting. All the best mate.

  • Brijesh on May 18, 2016, 8:15 GMT

    @ACricLover - Attributing 9 consecutive years of success in a league as competitive as the IPL to luck is rather thoughtless argument. Furthermore, add his success with India (at least in ODIs/T20s and home Test series), calling him excessively fortunate is unjust and a case of sour grapes. To be fair, RPS lost the better CSK players to GL. Add to this the decline in Dhoni's own finishing abilities and injuries, you have a team that's very hollow. He's always been a street smart captain, batsman and wicket-keeper. If that's what you perceive as 'luck', well, I say those perceptions are misguided. As a long time RCB fan, I know what it means to be on the wrong side of Dhoni's team - but, not for once would I attribute it all to luck, especially not 9 years worth of it. As for Zampa peaking, Dhoni knows how to use his spinners. If 9 years of continued success hasn't reinforced that, I doubt anything will. Plus, Zampa seems a potentially great leg spinner - there's enough evidence for it.

  • Lin on May 18, 2016, 7:18 GMT

    I will give another perspective to this analysis for zampa'a bowling, this is all part of the luck that has been or had been inundating the cricket career of dhoni. If zampa had played for any other ipl team this year he would have had an ordinary ipl so far. But it is a rule like situation where any player plays under dhoni has to peak his performance. If you look at all the international and ipl matches in the past several years you will see this phenomenon. His fans call this as his captaincy and many including I etc call this as just a mere luck phenomenon going on for many years. Look at the way D Cock and many other batsmen fail against dhoni, repeatedly, even warner too fails always. Kohli, gayle, ABD all always failed against dhoni and this has nothing to do with his captaincy rather it is his pure luck went on for many years, finally this year his luck is running out and you see the difference. Still RPSG tortures other teams tells the luck still pairing with dhoni.

  • Jose on May 18, 2016, 6:08 GMT

    The moment Adam Zampa burst into the international scene, I was very impressed. So did a good mate from Australia, Dunger.Bob. When we shared our excitement about this lad, another good mate from India, lovingly teased us, saying that Bob & I are fantasizing about Adam Zampa. Isn't it great to see that some fantasies come true, to some extent. Good luck and Godspeed to this talented boy.

  • sam on May 18, 2016, 6:03 GMT

    I cannot praise Adam Zampa enough. The guy has a tremendous temperament and more than that he has a sixth sense when batsmen are going to attack him and has that street smartness which you see in very few South Asian bowlers and in almost no English, SA or Australian bowlers. The only four non-South Asian bowlers who can attach street smartness with in last 25 years are Malcolm Marshall, Fannie De Villiers, Shane Warne and Gavin Larsen. The guy if he maintains his fitness and form will become a limited overs great and if starts to get more dip and turn in his leg break might become a great test bowler as well. You can't teach cricket smartness; either you have it or don't.

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