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IPL 2013

May 24, 2013

Karan Sharma could solve India's spin woes

Nisseem Burkule, India

R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla prepare to bowl at the nets, Bangalore, February 25, 2011
India's spinners don't bring much to the table with the bat and on the field. Karan Sharma, however, is a welcome change from the trend © AFP
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Players/Officials: Karn Sharma
Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
Teams: India

As is the case with every start-up business, the first fiscal year is always uncertain. But team Hyderabad, with their new owners, coaching staff, team jersey, and team name ended the season in the green. Like the phoenix on their crest, the Sunrisers rose from the ashes of the now defunct Deccan Chargers, and made it to the final four and into the Champions League qualifiers.

Karan Sharma was one of the success stories in Sunrisers' solid run. The steely-faced Railways legspinner might prove to be the answer for India's ODI & T20I bowling woes.

Right through the season, while Steyn and Mishra kept chipping away at the wickets, Karan quietly went about his business. Karan picked up 11 wickets in 13 matches at an enviable 6.6 runs per over. Given that he was bowling alongside Dale Steyn, Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma, these are noteworthy stats since he was the bowler the opposing batsmen targeted.

With a short-run up and a blink-and-you-miss-it action, he lets them rip with tremendous control. He has the googly, the quicker one, the straighter one, and the quintessential legspinner, and he can bowl each of them at will. He bowls a tight line, and forces batsmen to play across the line.

Moreover, he is sharp on the field. He often fielded at point, a position traditionally reserved for the best fielder in the team. The limited batting opportunities that he got showed that he can definitely tonk the ball.

It's time for India to plan for the next ODI World Cup in Australia-New Zealand. Presently R Ashwin is India's first-choice limited-overs spinner. Although Ashwin has shown his credentials at home in Test matches, he is yet to really nail down a spot in the other two. His performance in Australia during the CB Series in 2012 was patchy. The Indian team, which traditionally looks at spin as a wicket-taking option in ODIs, can do with an attacking back-up spinner. Moreover, Ashwin isn't the best fielder going around - he's often consigned to short fine-leg and the slips. Karan is a far better all-round fielding option.

In recent times Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, and Harbhajan Singh have had middling ODI returns with the ball. Harbhajan is known for his sporadic big-hitting, but other that, the trio doesn't bring too much batting or fielding nous to the table.

India should take a leaf out of Pakistan's victorious World Cup campaign of 1992. Although Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Aaqib Javed were dangerous upfront, it was Mushtaq Ahmed who played a pivotal role in the middle overs. With 16 wickets in 9 games, he was their second highest wicket-taker, which eventually proved to be the difference between Pakistan and the other teams.

Karan checks all the boxes, but he needs few international caps and the confidence of the selectors. If the Indian team thinktank wants to prepare him for the future, this is the best time to invest in his potential.

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Posted by Ashok on (May 28, 2013, 15:41 GMT)

I personally felt that Karan Sharma is a better choice for a leg spinner in England, than A. Mishra. Karan is much quicker & gives less flight than Mishra. On English pitches this type of bowling is lethal especially on spin friendly pitches where the ball can really get a prodigious turn & bounce. Mishra is a bowler who exploits flight & googly effectively. He is more suited for Indian pitches where the ball keeps low. The Selectors should look back to 60's. Chandrasekhar who bowled fast leg breaks with high bounce was an extremely effective bowler in England. This is where the Selectors' knowledge of Cricket can be useful. Dhoni also needs to be instructed in effective use of the spinners. MSD appears to dislike bowling specialists especially the spinners. Rahul Sharma would have been very effective in England. But he spent his time on the bench. Now the Selectors have shosen a wrong leg spinner who will also spend his time on the bench under MSD - one wasted spot in the Squad!

Posted by Siddharth on (May 27, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

@vmr raj - its the batsmen who should be given chances after considerable cricket experience and bowlers should be played at an early age, strangely it happens the other way in India. Stats do not tell the complete story, I have seen Karn Sharma bowl and he is a talented bowler. Give him the chance in test matches and he will show how well he can rip and turn the ball which he could not do regularly in IPL in order to stem the flow of runs.

Posted by Dummy4 on (May 26, 2013, 16:06 GMT)

Too early !! Let him prove at first class level too. I think its key to use IPL to identify players who are talented but then they have to prove themselves even at first class level to knock doors ar national level.

Posted by Dummy4 on (May 26, 2013, 13:08 GMT)

Good review and I tend to agree that Karan Sharma has done enough to justify a T20I opportunity and perhaps some India A games to see how he goes. Another bowler although not a leggie who never seems to get picked is Iqbal Abdulla has done well for Mumbai in Ranji's has always done well of KKR, is a great fielder and a handy batsman to good enough to bat at 7 - 8.

Posted by Nisseem on (May 26, 2013, 7:27 GMT)

@cricket2Monkey- First of all, Amit Mishra made his International debut in 2003, followed by call-ups to the national side in '08,'10,'11, and now to the Champions Trophy. I will be more than happy if he performs well in England, but please don't say he didn't get his share of chances. Secondly, you speak highly of Rahul Sharma, knowing that he comes straight from the 'Munaf Patel's school of indiscipline and attention disorder'. And finally, for the umpteenth time, have you read the article? The author has clearly mentioned what Karan Sharma is capable of with the ball. You sound like a stingy boss of an Indian company, who prefers playing with existing resources to recruiting new talent. Karan has done more than enough to get a chance to play for the India 'A' side, if not the national side. Personally, after having seeing his accuracy and his guile, he will definitely be a handful on the wickets in Australia. Exactly, what the author is trying to say here.

Posted by Dummy4 on (May 25, 2013, 22:09 GMT)

He is a really talented. I hope he makes it to the team soon, Better than Piyush Chawla anyday !

Posted by Kalyan on (May 25, 2013, 18:56 GMT)

Guys All I am saying is we should be selecting bowlers solely on the merit of bowling and not on other things he can bring to the table. We have had much trouble with out bowling department just because of this approach. If Karan Sharma turns out to be a great leggie for our side that is awesome, but my question in a scenario where Indian management has not even given a chance to Amit Mishra who has been in great form recently why would we even want to talk about another leggie. Rahul Sharma is still around BTW. He had a doping scandal, but BCCI is definitely going to rope him back as well.

The under 19 Harmeet Singh has shown great promise as well, what about him? And @gdbduy..we all love Harsha for his commentary skills, but during IPL all he does is flll the void. He has written also about Paul Valthaty, Mandeep Singh, Manish Pandey.

If we start going for Horses for Courses approach with bowlers, we will not have a bowler ready to replace Ashwin/Ojha in Tests.

Posted by thomas on (May 25, 2013, 15:33 GMT)

Let us watch karan in ranji and other national tournaments before we credence to the tamasha games which is what IPL is turning out to be, more so with each passing day

Posted by sujeeth on (May 25, 2013, 13:32 GMT)

@cricket2monkey:- "If he had performed well as a bowler compared to "Ashwin" and Mishra in this IPL"............... wait, Ashwin performed in this IPL..........Lol

Posted by Prashanth on (May 25, 2013, 5:59 GMT)

@cricket2Monkey: You did not get the point as to what the author is trying to say. First of all, we are talking abt a leg spinner. So, lets limit our argument at that. We only have one leg-spinner on any note other than Karan i.e. Amit Mishra. In LOIs (whether ODIs or T20s), as a whole package (bowling, fielding, batting, fitness), Karan seems to be a better option. While he may not get into India ODI team right away, he can certainly be considered for India T20 and India A teams, and based on performances in these matches, he can be drafted into ODI team. This should be done with great planning ASAP, keeping in might WC2015, as he certainly seems an exciting talent (read Harsha's article on need to trust me or Suresh Reddy :) ).

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