Wrist spinners have grabbed the headlines as much as batters have done in this edition of the Indian Premier League. If Jos Buttler and KL Rahul have scored the runs with gay abandon, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav are among the top wicket-takers in IPL 2022.
Yuzvendra Chahal, who is leading the Rajasthan Royals attack, and Kuldeep Yadav, who has found joy and confidence after being picked up by Delhi Capitals in the IPL auction in February this year, have profited from the conditions offered by the pitches in Mumbai and Pune.
“We’ve been full of praise for the hard, bouncy wickets on commentary because they allow for lots of runs and entertaining games,” said former England star all-rounder Kevin Pietersen.
“If there is one thing that spinners love it’s bounce, so it’s no surprise that spin is having such a big say in this competition. It’s particularly nice to see Kuldeep Yadav, such an exciting talent, going well,” added Pietersen, an-ex IPL star.
“Orthodox spinners can be easier to line up, but mystery wrist spinners like Kuldeep and Yuzvendra Chahal are so difficult to play,” says Pietersen. Chahal has 22 wickets in 11 matches with a brilliant economy of 7.25. With a best of five wickets for 40, Chahal is repaying the faith and money (6.5 Crores) the Rajasthan Royals management invested in the Haryana spinner who was surprisingly not retained by Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Kuldeep Yadav has found new confidence in Delhi Capitals. The Chinaman bowler did not get enough opportunities in Kolkata Knight Riders for two seasons. At DC, Kuldeep has cemented his place with 18 wickets in 11 matches with an economy of 8.87. He has two four-wicket hauls.
Interestingly, Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals are two of the three teams Pietersen is backing to win the IPL this year. Hardik Pandya-led Gujarat Titans, of course, have won Pietersen’s heart purely by their attitude and performance. Winning is a habit and GT have enjoyed their debut season by finding ways to wriggle out from difficult positions. GT’s win against Lucknow Super Giants on Tuesday, was a classic case in point.
“When you’re winning like that, the energy in the dressing room is so positive. Nobody talks about defeats, everybody has a smile on their face, and everybody is thinking positively. That then allows you to go out and express yourself and play even better.
“They’re not inhibited. They’re just doing what feels right instinctively. Look at Rashid Khan when he got them over the line against Sunrisers Hyderabad the other night. He just had this positive attitude and was able to pull it off,” points out Pietersen.
KKR IN DOLDRUMS
While Gujarat Titans are on a roll, Pietersen’s heart sinks for Kolkata Knight Riders. The two-time IPL champions have a mathematical chance to qualify for the IPL playoffs but Pietersen feels KKR are a team full of “negative” energy.
“They’ve used 19 players so far, which is far too many. For a franchise (KKR) as big as them, it’s just a horrible state of affairs. That is a dressing room full of the opposite energy to Gujarat: negative, negative, negative.
“Last year, that run to the final was defined by out-of-the-box thinking. They had their analyst, Nathan Leamon, front and centre, sending signals out to the middle, and they seemed really innovative. Now it seems like the whole thing has run out of momentum,” said Pietersen.