Rashid Khan has become the poster boy for Sunrisers Hyderabad, joining their squad in 2017 and, just one year later, helping them finish runner-up. However, there is another good spinner at Sunrisers, a fingerspinner. Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh Test and T20 captain, has been stuck in the dugout for most of this season but his knowledge of the game - and in particular his views on fingerspin in the T20 game - are fascinating.
Can you talk about life as a spinner in T20s?
It is difficult. Especially for a fingerspinner, it is very difficult. If you are a wristspinner, you've got a little bit of an advantage. But having said that, most grounds are not that big. And the format is such that the batsmen are coming at you all the time. You need to be on your toes to be able to be able to survive or to do well in this format.
Can you explain a little why it's an advantage to be a wristspinner?
Well, because it is a little unorthodox. Five-ten years back, there were hardly any. Other than Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, you can't name so many legspinners. So people are not used to facing legspinners. It's new to the players. Once they get used to it, legspinners have to come up with some different plans.
You think that will happen soon?
It will happen in 3-4 years. Because nowadays, you see all teams have got one or two legspinners. So batsmen are trying to play accordingly. And they are trying to get better playing against them. Once they get better at it, the legspinners need to come up with better plans.
"Fast bowlers and wristspinners have come up with so many variations. Rashid Khan says he has five types of the legbreak itself. As a fingerspinner, what can you really do in terms of variations? A lot. Just by flighting the ball"
Harbhajan Singh said if you back a fingerspinner who is trying to turn the ball, then he will get wickets. Do you agree?
A fingerspinner has to turn the ball to be able to get wickets. But for that, you need to toss the ball up. You're taking a chance as well at the same time. But to get wickets, you need to spin the ball.
Isn't that difficult in T20s?
It is. Unless you get a turner, it is very difficult, because then what you try to do is survive - not get hit for boundaries - and the ball may be on the batsman's pads or a wide yorker or something else. So unless it's a turner, it's really difficult. But having said that, if you look at the records, I think spinners are still getting lot of wickets.
So how do you approach a T20 spell?
Depends on the situation and the conditions. If the situation and conditions suit [me], it's a different approach. It's the situation that's more important than anything else. If I need to take wickets for the team, I go for it. If I need to contain, I do that.
Fast bowlers and wristspinners have come up with so many variations. Rashid Khan says he has five types of the legbreak itself. As a fingerspinner, what can you really do in terms of variations? A lot. Just by flighting the ball.
There are some other areas that fingerspinners are nowadays trying to improve. They're trying legbreaks, they're trying carrom balls. You bowl a faster ball, a wide yorker. There are so many things. You just need to play with the batsman's mind.
One of the old ways for a fingerspinner was to change angle at the crease
Yeah. There are certain changes you can do in every ball if you want to. But it's up to the bowler. Some bowlers are comfortable doing the exact same thing and that gives them success. And a few try different things and that's how they get their success.
As a batsman it's easier for you to pick a spinner or a fast bowler in this format?
Either way it is very difficult. Players who are playing in the IPL - they all have skill. So it's very hard to pick a certain bowler [type]. So depending on the condition, depending on the team situation, and what are the areas you are looking to improve, then you pick certain players. That is the ideal way to go.
"A fingerspinner has to turn the ball to be able to get wickets. But for that, you need to toss the ball up. You're taking a chance as well at the same time"
How would you summarise Sunrisers' season so far?
I haven't played many games. It is disappointing, but at the same time you need to look at the bigger picture. All the overseas players are doing really well and the team as well. So it's very difficult for me to play in that situation, but I have to keep on working hard and, when I get my chance, I need to make sure I grab it with both hands.
At this moment, I think we've done well. There were some close games that we should have won, but we lost. That is the beauty of this format. We need to make sure that in the crucial stages we win those battles.
What were the conversations like in the team when you lost three games in a row?
Everyone was disappointed, but at the same time, we knew that in T20 tournaments, that can happen. You need momentum to change these bad results. So we are waiting for that momentum and finally we got that momentum. If we can kick on, we'll be in a very good position.
Being a senior player, was it a little frustrating to be on the sidelines and not help out?
As I said, it is disappointing. It is frustrating. But I need to understand the situation at the same time. I'm doing my best at the nets, I'm working really hard on my skills and my fitness, so as I said, I'm waiting for my opportunity and I need to make sure that when I get my opportunity, I make the most out of it.