Leg-spinners can be game changers. If accurate, they pick up wickets with variations. If they falter, they get hammered, like Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Wanindu Hasaranga tasted at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders’ Sam Billings in his second over.
A full toss was slammed flat over mid-wicket by Billings. But for that blemish with the ball, Hasaranga applied the brakes on the KKR batting with impressive figures of four for 20 in his four overs bowled in two spells of three and one.
The 24-year-old Hasaranga, acquired by RCB for ₹10.75 crore in the February auctions, was back in the RCB colours after making his IPL debut last year. He was brought into bowl on Wednesday by his skipper Faf du Plessis in the seventh over and straightaway struck by removing KKR captain Shreyas Iyer cheaply. It was not just Hasaranga’s guile but also RCB wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik’s trick that saw Shreyas lose concentration. Karthik was seen adjusted the field before the delivery that dismissed Shreyas, taking a few extra seconds and disturbing KKR captain’s concentration. Shreyas falling for just 13 runs was a huge blow from which point, at 46 for four in the seventh over, his team needed something special from the rest of his batsmen.
The fifth-wicket pair of Sunil Narine and Sam Billings promised to deliver but only so much. The West Indian edged a horizontal shot off Hasaranga to point for only 12, the left-hander deceived by the googly, at which time KKR went for their first strategic time out.
Immediately on resumption, Hasaranga picked up his third wicket, and second off successive deliveries, dismissing Sheldon Jackson for a first ball duck. The right-hander played for the turn that was not there and rather marginally went the other way to disturb the off-stump.
Playing only his fourth IPL match, Hasaranga took one more wicket in his fourth, and the 15th of the KKR innings, by having Tim Southee hit straight to his skipper fielding at long on. Hasaranga’s spell deservedly fetched him the man of the match award.
One of the stars of Sri Lankan T20 team, Hasaranga’s was a sweet comeback of sorts after having gone for 40 runs in just the previous game at the same venue, DY Patil Stadium, against Punjab Kings three nights ago.
Hasaranga may have been forgiven for his lapses on the field, twice misfielding to let the ball go to the boundaries, as he had bowled RCB to a strong position.