Delhi Capitals did quite the opposite, picking two leg-spinners to go with their left-arm spinning all-rounder Axar Patel in their game against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday (April 20). It was a huge gamble, but Delhi decided to solve their leg-spin dilemma by playing both their options.
One was an 18-year-old from Nepal, playing just his second season in the IPL. Sandeep Lamichhane is making waves around T20 leagues, and is just about making a name for himself in the IPL too.
The other, Amit Mishra, is twice the age of Lamichhane and the second highest wicket-taker in IPL history. Before every game, Delhi have had the youngster vs veteran debate, and have solved it by going both ways.
Prior to their game against Punjab, Delhi played both Mishra and Lamichhane only once in nine games this season.
Lamichhane wasn't picked for Delhi's last three games, including the one at home against Mumbai Indians. He should have perhaps been an automatic pick on the slow and low Feroz Shah Kotla, but Delhi stuck with Keemo Paul, who had won the Man of the Match award in the previous game in Hyderabad.
The big loss to Mumbai made the selection easier, and Delhi drafted Lamichhane back, even though Mishra was already present. Mishra had picked 1 for 18 from three overs against Mumbai, and had rightly kept his place.
On Saturday, it was the youngster who outshone the experienced Mishra. Lamichhane returned 3 for 40 from four overs, while Mishra conceded 40 from four without picking a wicket. To put things in context, Lamichhane bowled two of his four overs in the Power Play, while Mishra bowled after the first six overs. Two of Mishra's four overs came after Gayle departed.
Both Lamichhane and Mishra were carted around by Gayle. The Jamaican hit the youngster for four fours and a six, and Mishra for three sixes.
But Lamichhane found a way back, and had the last laugh not once but twice. The first ball he bowled, in the second over, was smashed down the ground by KL Rahul for six. One ball later, Rahul slog-swept him for a four over square leg. The legspinner had his revenge the very next ball though, deceiving Rahul with flight and having him stumped.
Lamichhane to Gayle was the tougher challenge. It began with Gayle hitting 16 off Lamichhane's second over. The legspinner returned in the 13th over with Gayle in full flow, and saw the first ball disappear for six. Lamichhane to Gayle read: 4 . 4 . 4 4 6
But once again, Lamichhane held his nerve and had the last laugh. Gayle had a go again, but this time could only get it as far as Colin Ingram at deep mid-wicket, who took a stunning tag-team catch with Axar Patel.
The catch will be in focus, but Lamichhane's clever and subtle variation also caused the dismissal, as it had done earlier against Rahul. On both occasions, Lamichhane had delivered the ball from deep inside the crease, pulling the length back a little to deceive the batsmen.
At the end of the game, Lamichhane has eight wickets from five matches while Mishra has four from the same number of games. Delhi's remaining matches are all on slow turners - two in Delhi and one each in Jaipur and Chennai. Both Mishra and Lamichhane could have plenty of role to play, but for now it's the youngster who is making all the right noises.
First Published: April 21, 2019, 6:16 AM IST