Muralitharan pins blame on Indian spinners for high totals in IPL 2024

Written by Vishwas Gupta

Playing on flat decks and Indian spinners “not spinning the ball” enough are the reasons that Muttiah Muralitharan believes the tweakers have not been able to make an impact in the ongoing India Premier League. In a season where totals in excess of 240 have become the norm at most venues, only three spinners — Yuzendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Sunil Narine – are in the top 20 wicket-takers list.

Beyond them, not many have been able to make an impact even in the middle overs; even India’s premier spinner R Ashwin hasn’t been an exception, going six straight matches without a wicket. On flat decks and short boundaries, captains have been reluctant to use the spinners.

“The problem in India at the moment is most of the spinners who are playing are not spinning the ball. That is the main criteria because they are bowling a little quicker and not spinning the ball. There is no deviation,” Muralitharan, who is the spin-bowling coach of Sunrisers Hyderabad said on the eve of their match against Chennai Super Kings.

And according to Muralitharan no spin and deviation off the surface like in the case of Sunil Narine or Varun Chakravarthy means, it makes it all the more easy for the batsmen.

“The batsman, if you see in the practices right, they all face throw downs and practice power hitting. So they have now got used to it when the ball is coming straight and the speed is 80 to 90 (kmph) and 95 (kmph) once an over. So when it comes straight, they have it in the muscle memory. They practice hundreds of balls every day. So the brain knows. If they deviate, the brain doesn’t know yet. So that’s why spinners have to learn to spin the ball. And if they do that, then they have a better chance,” Muralitharan elaborated.

In this IPL, when it comes to dot balls, Narine’s 73 are the sixth highest among all bowlers and is the only spinner in the top 10. Rashid is at No 11, followed by Varun at 12. Chahal is at 18th spot with 57 dot balls. And even economy wise, Narine 6.96 is the best among all spinners, followed by Rashid Khan’s 7.44.

Among Indians, Axar Patel has 7.36, Krunal Pandya 7.42, Ravindra Jadeja 7.85, Kuldeep 8.03, Chahal 8.83 and Ashwin 8.88.

And this season, Hyderabad have used only Mayank Markande as their specialist spinner with the likes of Shahbaz Ahmed, Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma and Washington Sundar used as part-timers. The story is the same with Royal Challengers Bengaluru, where Will Jacks and Glenn Maxwell were used as their main spinners with Mahipal Lomror, Swapnil Singh and Karn Sharma rotated depending on the venue.

“If you look at it, last season there were a few spin-friendly pitches. This time, everyone is preparing flat wickets. Even in big grounds, the pitches are flat and the outfield is very quick. So there is extra scope for 30-40 runs. And you need experienced spinners… but how many experienced spinners do you have in the IPL? I would say batting is dominating in the tournament. There is also an Impact Player, which means there are eight batsmen, and you have to face only 120 deliveries. So they are just thinking about the strike-rate and how to dominate,” Muralitharan said.

With regards to totals even in excess of 200 not being safe, Muralitharan believed that compared to last season where the Impact Player rule was introduced, this year coaches and captains have become well versed to make full use of it.

“Last year, they were getting used to the Impact Player rule. This year, they know how to use it and when. They know to get the maximum out of it. It (IP) has more advantage in the batting than bowling because you are just looking at getting a big score. Even if you get out, as a batsman you know that the extra man will cover up. So batsmen are playing freely and when you don’t have that fear and bat with the freedom they have, seven out of 10 times, it is going to work. They are not scared of getting out,” Muralitharan said.

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Vishwas Gupta