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Leg-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (second from left) and Ravi Bishnoi both played in the Super 4 clash against Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Twenty20, the shortest format in cricket, has been consistently evolving over the last two decades, and it has given wrist spinners and left-arm orthodox spinners a new lease of life. But the biggest casualty is the off-spinners. They are a non-essential commodity in white-ball formats.

Off-spinners have been used to keep the run-flow under check, but today the approach to Twenty20 games or One-Day Internationals has changed. Getting wickets is the new mantra. Because the fall of wickets brings in a new batter, and in the process, a few dot balls arrest the momentum of the batting side. But most teams worldwide believe that only wrist spinners can do it. As a result, only a handful of quality off-spinners are playing the shorter formats, that includes Afghanistan skipper Mohammed Nabi.

Talking about the limited role of the off-spinners, Indian coach Rahul Dravid feels it is just a cycle, a phase, where the wrist spinners are more preferred.

World-class spinner

“We are lucky to have one of the best in Ravichandran Ashwin. Yes, not many are picked today. Wrist spinners are becoming very valuable for obvious reasons; they can spin both ways for both the left and right-handers. It’s just a cycle, just a phase. Hong Kong’s Ehsan Khan bowled well, and England has Moeen Ali. There are a few playing around, and not that they have completely disappeared. We have one, and if we need to play him, we have the quality to play him,” Dravid said at a press conference on the eve of the Super 4 clash against Pakistan.

Still, Ashwin didn’t play, but Deepak Hooda, the all-rounder, was picked. Sadly, Indian captain Rohit Sharma was reluctant to give the off-spinner even one over, despite Pakistan employing a left-right combination almost for 17 overs to negate the double leg-spin combination of Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravi Bishnoi.

Varying the pace

Harbhajan Singh, one of India’s best off-spinners, told Gulf News in a recent interview that off-spinners could be as effective as wrist spinners.

“It’s an art once you get it right, then it’s not easy for the batters to keep hitting. You have to vary the pace, the loop, and the spin; it takes time. I don’t think now people wanted to put that amount of time and effort,” he said, adding that spinners need to attack to get wickets. “Unless you pick wickets, it is impossible to bowl a dot ball. Once the new batters are in, you bowl a dot ball as they take time to settle.”

Though off-spinners have not disappeared, they are on the verge of extinction in shorter formats of the game.