HomeCricketKeshav Maharaj Rising To Be A Real Left-arm Spin...

Keshav Maharaj Rising To Be A Real Left-arm Spin Asset

- Advertisement -

South Africa vs Sri Lanka 2018

28-year-old South African left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj has suddenly got all the attention towards him. And why not? The Indian origin player posted South Africa’s best figures since they were readmitted to international cricket in 1991 by taking 9-129 against Sri Lanka.
It was sheer beauty and precision from Maharaj, to gain maximum purchase from a spin-friendly track at Colombo. South Africa suffered another Test match loss, but Maharaj has staked his claim by clinching 12 scalps.
Maharaj, who continued with his second-innings form from Galle, produced an exceptional spin masterclass. The left-arm spinner bowled a lot of overs in the build-up to the match to keep his match rhythm flowing, and worked closely with Proteas spin bowling coach to keep himself in shape mentally.
This spell was special given he got the set batsmen one by one.
Faf du Plessis, who went with one spinner, had to hand a marathon opening spell of 25 overs to Maharaj. And scripting this epic show despite fatigue and the excessive Colombo heat, one should not rule out this special modern day feat. How special was this spell?
Probably the best in recent times, given there was no other spinner bowling in tandem. There was no spin partnership.
The question arises now is Maharaj the best left-arm spinner in the current scenario? Well, one cannot claim that largely because the span of his career has been short. But the player has shown a rapid rise. One might claim Sri Lankan veteran ace Rangana Herath as the best in business still. But he is a king in Asian conditions.
Perhaps, Ravindra Jadeja may claim a shout as well. But overseas, he is often left in the bench. So yes, one may then start to think that Maharaj is up there given his shows both at home and way.
The bracket, therefore, is tight and composed at the moment. Here we look at how Maharaj rose to glory and how he compares with the others mentioned above and some of the famous left-arm bowlers in the past.

Maharaj on ‘Cloud 9’ post heroics

Keshav Maharaj took his career best 9-fer in the last test match (Image: cricket365.com)

Maharaj also registered the second best bowling figures, for Proteas, in their history of the game. 9 for 113 by Hugh Tayfield, 60 years ago, is still the most impressive figures by a South African. Maharaj also scripted the 19th best performance in Tests. He became the 17th bowler to take nine wickets in a Test inning.
At home, Maharaj has always been the lone spinner and is used to do the holding job when pacers are ruling the roost. Here the scenario was different, but Maharaj rose to the chance like a phoenix. He took the new ball in Sri Lanka’s second innings and captured three more wickets as the hosts declared at 275/5.
The bowler did a commendable job against India earlier this year at home and when looks at him, he is quite the real deal. In Colombo, he bowled with a clear head and knew what he was doing. What was impressive that he bowled straight and let the pitch to do the rest. Maharaj isn’t a big turner of the ball like a Kuldeep for example. He isn’t a wrist spinner, but rather uses his fingers.
He tempted the batsmen to come hard at him after pitching it higher. The intent was clear; attack every over.

- Advertisement -

Maharaj’s numbers have been on the high

South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj (L) celebrates with his teammates after he dismissed Sri Lanka’s Kusal Mendis during the first day of the second Test match between Sri Lanka and South Africa. (Image: mytimesnow)

Maharaj has played 22 Tests so far, and he has performed creditably at home. In 11 tests, he has taken 38 wickets on pace friendly pitches. He has two five-fors including a best of 5/59. He has done an able job in England, New Zealand and now Sri Lanka as well. Only Australia comes as a nation where he wasn’t up to the mark.
In Asia, he has only played in Sri Lanka and in two Tests, he has already picked 16 wickets. His bowling average of 21.73 his highly impressive. In England, his record is strong. 17 wickets from four Tests is quite a show. With a best of 4/85, he has shown calibre in another swing and pace friendly nation. And not to forget New Zealand which has similar conditions to England. In three Tests, he has 15 wickets there.
Maharaj has a total of 90 wickets in 22 Tests. And that’s really staggering.

A look at the pool of left-arm spinners in Tests

Rangana Herath is the best left-arm spinner around (Image:sportsworldpk.com)

When the present pool of left-arm spinners are brought into play, Herath leads the charge. He has been in the business for close to two decades now. A career that has seen him already picking 430 wickets. The Lankan ace is more of a teacher for young budding cricketers.
Herath is a king at home with 276 wickets on Lankan pitches to his name with a career-best of 9/127. Maharaj has a better record than Herath in South Africa where the latter has 16 wickets from 6 Test matches. And similarly, Maharaj is better in New Zealand and England too. Herath has 8 and 21 wickets at these venues respectively.
Ravindra Jadeja, on the other hand, is similar like that of Herath of being a lion at home. Out of his 171 Test scalps, 137 have come in India alone. In England, Jadeja has 9 wickets from 4 games. In New Zealand, he has struggled to gain momentum with only 3 scalps from two matches. In South Africa, the senior bowler has played one Test, picking 6 wickets. Jadeja is no doubt a classy bowler, but he hasn’t got the opportunities like Maharaj or Herath outside the home.

Maharaj against the likes of Boje and Vettori

The duo of Nicky Boje and Daniel Vettori come to mind as far left-arm spinners go in the recent past. Vettori, no doubt, was a world class spinner. He was a subtle killer with a lot of consistency and grit.
The former Kiwi international enjoyed dominance in Asia in both Sri Lanka and India. The bowler picked 30 wickets in Lanka from 7 Tests and had 31 in India from 8 matches. Vettori was a rare breed who showed his prowess everywhere he went to.
He had wickets everywhere apart from South Africa where he struggled. But elsewhere like that of England (26), Australia (37) and New Zealand (159) to make a real impression in pace-friendly conditions.
Perhaps, Maharaj can draw inspiration from Vettori and should look to follow in his footsteps in creating a name for himself. The simplicity of Vettori is something that can be associated with Maharaj.
Nicky Boje wasn’t the hype ever as the rest in contention, but since being a former Proteas man he comes into the picture. In seven matches, in Sri Lanka, he had 25 scalps, but when one looks at his bowling average, it was a massive disappointment. He averaged 43.80. But one can claim that Lanka had better batsmen back then. Some of them were world class.

- Advertisement -

15 Highly Educated Cricketers Of All Time

Cricket is a game of passion and dedication. A sport in which one involves themselves in camps and practice since early childhood. Due to...

Do we often under-appreciate Andy Flower? What’s his legacy?

There's a hint of sadness in noting that Zimbabwe has never been a dominant power in world cricket. But nothing could be sadder than...

Why are more and more MotoGP riders using the Noson nasal dilator?

Introduction MotoGP riders or athletes are physically fit and healthy individuals and their muscles are continuously functioning and used during the performance. As a fan...

How Come UFC Fighters Have Cauliflower Ears But Boxers Don’t?

The UFC has come a long way since its early days, wherein the fights seemed like modern-day gladiators due to its brutality and inconsistent...

5 spinners who can be India’s potential finger-spinners

The Indian cricket team has always been proud of its ability to produce world-class batsmen and similarly potent spinners. Though in recent times, the...

IPL 2018: The beautiful Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur

Being seated in the Sawai Mansingh stadium brings a different world, a world of difference away from the palpable excitement of watching truly India’s...

Top 5 Left Wingers In The World, Based On 2019-20 Season

Owing to the fact that football has evolved a lot since its inception and the tactics have changed a lot, the role of wingers...

The astonishing decline of Mario Balotelli

There was a time when Mario Balotelli was on top of the world.  The Italian talisman had scored two goals in the Euro 2012 semi-finals,...

What can be expected from the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix?

Heat in the air and heat inside the car- that's been the story of the Azerbaijan Grand prix. As F1 parks itself at Baku...

How Suresh Raina Batted India Into The Finals of 2011 World Cup

Its been 9 years, since India won the Cricket World Cup defeating Sri Lanka on 2 April, 2011. The images and visuals of...

IPL 2018: The best from the West Indies

When one of nature's treacherous attacks on mankind- earthquakes- strike, their impact is measured on Richter's scale. When West Indians strike in a tournament...

Ajax XI if they didn’t sell their star players

Based in Amsterdam, AFC Ajax, who incidentally draw their name from the legendary Greek hero of the same name, are the most successful club...

Age Fraud in Indian Cricket: Are players really to be blamed?

There have been times while watching a cricket match when we tend to hear commentators comment on cricketers’ age. We as fans have many...

Big change for India Women’s cricket as BCCI looks to finalise bowling coach soon

We are not even at the halfway stage of the 2018 cricketing season. It clearly seems there's no stopping India's women's cricket team. The...

5 famous players to play for both Leeds United and Liverpool

Leeds United are back in the Premier League after 16 years and will play Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday in their very first match...

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -