Bishnoi follows in Kumble's footsteps

It seems Anil Kumble is seeing a bit of himself in Ravi Bishnoi.

Kumble, the legendary Indian bowler and coach of the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team, appears to be tutoring the young leg-spinner on the fine art of bamboozling batsmen with flippers and googlies.

Bishnoi, who is having an excellent outing in the ongoing IPL in the United Arab Emirates, is fast developing a mean "chutki flipper", which Kumble was famous for.

Like Kumble, the Jodhpur-based Bishnoi started as a fast bowler before turning to leg-spin. He is unconventional and quick through the air, like Kumble, though the delivery action is a bit different.

Bishnoi, who took 17 wickets to end as the highest wicket-taker in the U-19 World Cup earlier this year, is playing in the IPL for the first time.

He was a rare bright spot for KXIP during their 69-run loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad on Oct 8. He has already taken eight wickets in seven matches.

He removed Australian David Warner and Englishman Jonny Bairstow in one over after Bairstow had hit him for 18 runs in his first over.

Bishnoi ended up taking one more wicket during a spell of 3-0-29-3. It was sweet revenge and showed the 20-year-old has the skills to shine at the highest level of Twenty20 cricket.

Both Warner and Bairstow were surprised by the pace of Bishnoi's deliveries, which were similar to Kumble's special variety, the "chutki flipper".

It hastens through a batsman's defence to hit the pads and stumps.

The ball is called "chutki" because of the click sound the bowler's fingers make at delivery. It got Kumble, currently aged 49, tons of wickets during his playing days.

"I am impressed with Ravi's rise. We have worked very hard to get him to this level," said Shahrukh Pathan, Bishnoi's childhood coach who trained him at an academy in Jodhpur.

"I am very grateful and thrilled to see him come under Kumble sir's wings. Like him, Ravi bowls a bit fast."

Bishnoi, who took four wickets in the U-19 World Cup final that India lost to Bangladesh, has an action which can technically be termed faulty if we go by the coaching manual.

His body and head fall to the left, not keeping straight as the coaching books suggest.

Kumble kept his head still and straight and bowled with his delivery arm coming from a 12 o'clock position, usually called high arm.

The good thing is that Kumble has given Bishnoi the confidence to continue with the same action as there are some advantages.

"Anil sir has always asked me to back my strengths in my bowling and skill," said Bishnoi. "He asked me not to try too many things and try to be cool and calm in the middle."

Pathan said that Bishnoi "used to bowl fast when we took him in as a youngster about a decade or so back".

The coach added: "I and my friend Pradyot Singh Rathore, with whom I was running the academy, asked Ravi to try leg-spin as he was short and frail and didn't have the body of a fast bowler. When he tried leg-spin, he looked awkward, bowling fast and flat, but he was getting some turn. We asked him to give the ball some air but he couldn't.

"Incredibly, this action - head and body falling to the left - was giving his googly a very sharp turn. So we let him bowl with the action."

The googly is Bishnoi's most potent delivery. He used the wrong 'un to perfection to get rid of England's limited-overs and World Cup winning-captain Eoin Morgan on Oct 10.

Kolkata Knight Riders' experienced left-hander played his stroke too early and handed a simple catch to Glenn Maxwell at long-on.

The 34-year-old was looking in good touch but was outfoxed by Bishnoi, who has been in splendid form.

Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann picked Bishnoi as one of the Indian youngsters to have impressed him in IPL 2020.

The Englishman even said light-heartedly that he would like the KXIP leg-spinner to play for England.

During a discussion on the Star Sports show Cricket Connected, Swann said: "Ravi Bishnoi's confidence... as a young man who has played just Under-19 stuff is brilliant.

"I have been very, very impressed and I am pretty sure that he must have an English grandad or something so that we can steal him."

For three years, Bishnoi failed to break through to the Rajasthan age-group side, but then things changed.

He impressed in the nets to make the Rajasthan U-19 side and then did well at the U-19 World Cup.

KXIP picked him for Rs2 crore ($370,000) this season.

"Working and training under Anil sir is a pleasure," said Bishnoi. "I am learning so much from all his experience.

"I don't want to be limited to my googlies. I am developing new variations and always focus on bowling according to the match situation."

Indo-Asian News Service

"Ravi Bishnoi's confidence... as a young man who has played just Under-19 stuff is brilliant. I have been very, very impressed and I am pretty sure that he must have an English grandad or something so that we can steal him."

- Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann


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