Adam Zampa, the leg-spinner, might have hit the lowest point of his career when Australia last toured India, but he returns this time a much-improved, more confident bowler, so much so he is now Australia’s first-choice spinner for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.
Zampa had a quiet role to play in Australia’s victory in the T20I series, where he conceded 45 runs in seven overs and claimed the wicket of Virat Kohli. He followed that up by snaring 2/49 in ten overs – Australia’s best figures – in their defeat in the first ODI in Hyderabad.
That included the scalp of Kohli again – Zampa has now dismissed the Indian captain four times in nine innings – and he put the success down to consistently being able to attack the stumps. “From the IPL experience and seeing these guys play, it’s about the best way to bowl to these batsmen,” Zampa said in Nagpur, ahead of the second ODI on Tuesday, 5 March.
“Particularly in ODI cricket, most leg-spinners are attacking the stumps, and that’s my strength too. I feel like when I get away from the stumps, guys like Virat [Kohli], and the other night [Kedar] Jadhav [hit me]. I got frustrated and bowled wide of the stumps, and that is when the damage happens. It’s about staying away from their strengths.”
The attack-the-stumps line ties in well with Zampa’s natural ability to be skiddy. It has accounted for Kohli both times on this tour. In the T20I in Visakhapatnam, Kohli stepped down the track in a bid to go over the top, but ended up aerially dragging the ball to long-on due to Zampa’s drift. In the ODI in Hyderabad, Kohli was pinned in front by a skidder that had pitched on a good length. Zampa had accounted for Kohli in similar fashion in Brisbane last year.
Having stifled the Indian captain with a solitary run off five balls, Zampa invited Kohli to go big against a top-spinner only to have the batsman lose shape and lob a catch to short third man. “It’s nice to get players like that [Kohli] out, I thought the best one was the T20 here [Visakhapatnam] and the first match in Brisbane,” Zampa said.
“I thought they were big wickets, given the situation of the match, and we ended up winning the game. Getting Virat is one thing, he was in at that time and it was big wicket, but then you also have to think about getting Dhoni out and Rohit out. Virat is a big wicket, but there are six or seven big wickets in the Indian team.”
Much of this newfound success has been down to Zampa’s time in the Big Bash League, where he was the Melbourne Stars’ second-highest wicket-taker with 14 scalps at 22.14, and his stint with Essex in county cricket.
Glenn Maxwell, Zampa’s captain at the Stars, had spoken earlier in the tour about how bowling at the small grounds in Chelmsford had brought out what he called “different defensive mechanisms to get batsmen out”. Zampa for his part credited Maxwell with instilling faith in him.