Southpaws hog limelight in IPL

Published: Friday, May 30, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Chennai: Until Matthew Hayden returned to Australia for national duty leaving Chennai Super Kings in the lurch, arguably in terms of the much-needed start by openers, in the T20 format, the team could boast of a unique batting line up.

They had a crop of highly talented left-handers who could make the predominantly right-arm seamers struggle to get the right line and length to contain them.

The left handers have hogged the limelight in the league phase of the IPL so far.

The raw statistics prove this. The top five batsmen with the best scores in the league are all left-handers.

Delhi Daredevils' opener Gautam Gambhir had notched up as many as 523 runs clocking an average of 43.58. His highest score was 86 and boasted a strike rate of 143.68.

But in the first place, ahead of the Delhi batsman, is the latest Aussie player on the block, Shaun Marsh, son of former Australian opener Geoff Marsh.

Also dazzling in the league, after initial failures was the 'evergreen' Sri Lankan opener Sanath Jayasurya.

This southpaw really gave the spectators and owners of Mumbai Indians their money's worth.

However, Dhoni, who is a bowler's nightmare in the shorter version of the game, failed after initial blast with the bat. He could not notch up a three figure score.

Even, he had to play a second fiddle to the likes of Matthew Hayden, another explosive left-hander, who was called back to Australia for national duty, was doing Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings proud, single-handedly winning matches with his bat.

Another southpaw was former Aussie Stumper Adam Gilchrist. Though an explosive hitter who hogged the limelight, his team, Deccan Chargers of Hyderabad, never got off in the league finishing at the bottom of the table.

Gilchrist notched up 431 runs in 13 matches. He, too, had an unbeaten ton to his credit with 109.

He blasted 19 sixes alongside his teammate Rohit Sharma who also hit the same number of sixes.

Shooting peerless cover drives, hoisting sixes over long off and long on and at times, over the bowlers head, was Proteas captain Graeme Smith, the other southpaw who changed the course of the game with his stylish batting for Rajasthan Royals, the top team in the league.

His knock of 91 in the match against Chenai Super Kings at the M A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, knocked the stuff out of the Super King's bowling, all right armers.

What's more, it was left-hander Suresh Raina who often came to the rescue of his team Super Kings when it needed to win badly to be in contention for semi finals after losing three games in a row.

Another South African batsman Albie Morkel proved his worth in the league as a power packed left hander.

His exploits in IPl have won him special recognition in South African Cricket now.

However, for a few left handers, IPL was a disappoinment in terms of knocking up big scores and totals.

Former Kiwi captain Stephen Flemming, who replaced Hayden in the Super King's line up as an opener, had only one good knock vis a vis the Aussie.

In fact, the cricket fans, who were turning up in large numbers for the Super Kings' home matches, were heard criticising Flemming, especially during a crucial game against Rajasthan Royals in which he hit a huge six and ran himself out the next ball.

India's T20 World Cup hero and Kings XI Punjab captain Yuvraj Singh was the other major failure among the southpaws. But he didn't mind as long as his team was doing well! Thus, the left hander's avowed grace, often seen as a crucial attractions of good batsmanship, be it the traditional Test match or the 50-over ODIs, once again came to the fore in IPL as it rolled into the climax with the first semi-final slated for tonight and the next tomorrow.

Surely, the semi-finalists, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chennai and Delhi would once again be looking forward to the southpaws - Smith, Marsh, Morkel and Gambhir - to give them what they had in the league phase: A great start and plenty of runs! Delhi Daredevils would be looking to Gambhir to spearhead the batting. Again, another left-hander, Abhishek Nayar, also hogged the limelight with his stroke play though his Mumbai Indians could not make it to the semi-final stage.

What's more, the most successful pace bowler in the league so far has been Pakistan's Sohail Tanvir with a bag of 21 wickets from nine matches with 6-14 as the best in a match....... and mind it, as Dhoni would like to say... Sohail is a left arm spinner.


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