‘Batsmen need a strategy to counter spin bowling’

2014-04-01 00:00

MIRPUR — A lack of strategy in batting against spin has contributed to slow-bowling success at the World Twenty20, former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq said yesterday.

“The tactics are changing and the batsmen don’t seem to have the kind of strategy they used to have to face spin bowling,” said Saqlain, a spin consultant for the West Indies team.

“I feel the mentality of spinners has changed and they are also getting help from pitches here.”

Saqlain is seen as an important member of the team management for defending champions West Indies, who have done well in the conditions to emerge as top contenders.

The West Indies faces Pakistan in the last Group 2 game today to decide the second qualifier behind unbeaten India.

Saqlain is credited with inventing the “doosra”, or the off-spinner’s concealed away-going delivery. He said the shortest format of the game was now settling well with both fast and slow bowlers finding success.

“I feel the format is now more balanced. There are fast bowlers like Bhuvneshwar Kumar of India, Umar Gul of Pakistan and Krishmar Santokie of the West Indies who are doing well here. Spinners are, of course, getting wickets and it’s up to the batting coaches to think, try to bring in something to counter spinners,” Saqlain added.

Saqlain praised the Indian pair of leg-spinner Amit Mishra and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who have bagged two man of the match awards each to help the 2007 champions complete four straight wins.

“They’re bowling with great control. If you see, nine of the top 10 bowlers in T20 rankings are spinners and we’ve the top two spinners in our team,” he said in reference to off-spinner Sunil Narine and leg-spinner Samuel Badree.

The 37-year-old Saqlain, who bagged 208 wickets in 49 Tests and 288 in 169 ODIs, fancied West Indies’ chances against Pakistan.

“We’ve some good spinners, but I’d still expect the whole team to back them and it’s not just the spinners who’ll always win you matches,” said Saqlain, who was the fastest in the world to take 100 ODI wickets but never played Twenty20 internationals.

Saqlain said he was also helping the West Indian batsmen devise ways of facing up to the Pakistan spin attack led by Saeed Ajmal.

“Ajmal has been playing for a long time. Technology gives all the information nowadays but when the batsmen come to me asking about Ajmal, about the kind of deliveries he bowls, I obviously give my tips since I have seen him over the years in Pakistan,” Saqlain said.

West Indies captain Darren Sammy conceded that his team needed to face up to Pakistan’s spinners better.

“We’ve to rotate the strike,” Sammy said.

“In our game against India, which was spin-oriented, 60% of the balls we played were dot balls. It’s a difficult game against Pakistan but it’s a step we’re ready to take.”

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