Wanindu Hasaranga, how mystery repaid faith
It was a big gamble that Royal Challengers Bangalore took by releasing Yuzvendra Chahal and going for Wanindu Hasaranga.
Preferred over Chahal
Chahal must have been in a really bad place as he was not picked for the Indian squad of the 2021 T20 World Cup despite being their best spinner over the last 4-5 years.
He then got another setback after not being retained by his IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore ahead of the IPL 2022 auctions. Bangalore were looking at a different strategy altogether.
WaninduHasaranga was picked by RCB in IPL 2021 after putting in some brilliant performances against India. He was quite expensive in the two T20s without being able to pick up any wicket.
However, the team management must have seen something special about him in the nets and decided to show their faith. They got him for big bucks in the IPL 2022 auction, and he did not disappoint.
The Sri Lankan spinner finished as the second highest wicket taker in the competition just behind Chahal with 26 wickets from 16 matches at an average of 16.54. He bowled with a strike rate of 13.1 and picked up one 4 wicket haul and one 5 wicket haul in the competition.
His best of 5/18 were the best figures in the entire season after JaspritBumrah’s 5 for 10.
Mystery spin is the thing that’s best employed to stop batters from scoring quickly in T20 cricket as they are not sure in which direction the ball is going to spin. They can’t use the pace of the bowlers either and a little risk leads them back to the pavilion which is why they are very cautious against bowlers of the ilk of Hasaranga.
Top of the tree
WaninduHasaranga was ranked as the number one T20 bowler in the ICC rankings at one point. He was placed at the 6th spot at the time of writing this article with 668 ratings.
He is behind Josh Hazlewood, Adil Rashid, Tabrez Shamsi, Rashid Khan and Adam Zampa. Part of the reason is that he does not get to play enough T20 Internationals like the big nations. Once the fixture stream becomes more consistent, there is little doubt that Hasaranga will consistently feature among the top 3 bowlers in world cricket in the T20s, at least for a few years to come.