India Tour West Indies, 2022
Arshdeep was impressive in opening T20I against West Indies © Getty
When the Indian selectors sit around a table to select the team for the T20 World Cup in Australia, one of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle they have to find is the left bowler. Over a period of time, the left-speed bowling option turned out to be a persistent missing piece in the puzzle of the Indian team in limited-plus cricket. Not so this time, as the selectors have a few promising options to choose from and one of them is the tall Arshdeep Singh.
Arshdeep showed some of his promise in his first throw in the opening T20I against the West Indies on Friday (July 29). Throwing the ball to Kyle Myers left, he puts one into the hole along with two complete deliveries: The opener delivered his first punch by hitting six and four of those three shots he encountered. With a refreshing start to the landlords, Archdeep was under pressure. But, as we’ve seen before at the IPL and other domestic leagues, under pressure, Arshdeep seems to find a clear button to forget the past and live in the present.
On a slightly two-pound surface, the left bowler decided that the short ball would be a counter punch. Myers probably didn’t expect the short ball because he made a deliberate move from walking into his shot, and could only catch the ball for the player positioned halfway. The main aspects of that short ball were that Arshdeep extracted good height on it and the streak was far from the batting strike zone. These two points reiterate the clarity of Arshdeep’s ideas that help him find the right solution to a problem.
Arshdeep, at the push-up, shared his views on the two-step nature of the track and how he followed his gut instinct to employ the Mayers’ short ball. “The wicket was also sticky, if you bowl in the right areas, use the breakers well, it was a very good wicket in that regard, and I think we played in very good areas,” he said. “With them chasing 190, they’re going to hit us hard from the start, we go to attack, we needed a little gate up front, he (Myers) attacked from the start, at the time that was the option, he could hit a limit outside the guard but at that time my gut instinct said, “You should seize this opportunity and it has paid off.”
The left-arm bowler is not over yet. At the IPL, Arshdeep has earned a reputation for being a valuable asset in slits. In T20I at Brian Lara Stadium, when Rohit Sharma handed him the ball in the 17th minute, the West Indies already found themselves in a deep burrow, with almost no hope of fixing the goal. But a brief tutorial from Arshdeep in that more gave a testament to his skills at the end.
For the right Keemo Paul, from around the wicket, he made a very complete turn and used the short, slow ball. These two charges were out of the mixture’s reach. When the hit was rotated and Arshdeep had to kneel in Akeal Hosein’s left hand, he changed the angle and turned over the wicket. With the southern claw hanging backward in the crease, the left-arm bowler used the york and found a contrasting swing to rock the woods.
One of the notable features that has led Arshdeep to the status of being the ultimate bowler for T20 teams is that he sticks to the basics: bowling at a specific court that was given to him by his captain. There’s also a bit of uniqueness in the way it charges the frizz. While bowling around the wicket, Arshdeep runs from behind the referee, so for only a moment or two, the hitter misses the bowler’s sight, which in turn can delay the hitting rhythm.
Arshdeep has another trump card up his sleeve and this is the traditional alternative. The new white Kookaburra ball doesn’t swing much, but the more it spins around a bit, the player has the chance to make early slits. And Arshdeep showed his ability to find the swing in his T20I debut against England. The angle of his left arm over the wicket can create enough problems for a right-handed hitter as the batter must open his stance to nullify the threat.
At just 23 years old, Arshdeep appears to have stapled the traits required to become a top T20 player – skills, bowling intelligence and temperament. He may also be on the right track to convince the national selectors that he could fit in perfectly with India’s plans for the T20 World Cup.