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Krunal Pandya: The spinner Who Doesn’t Give an Inch

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Krunal Pandya continues to ace the containing role to perfection. (BCCI Photo)

Krunal Pandya continues to ace the containing role to perfection. (BCCI Photo)

Krunal Pandya isn’t your typical wicket-taking spinner but a shrewd operator who gives nothing away!

Lucknow Super Giants’ 33-run win over Gujarat Titans last week was the 13th instance of the Indian Premier League team defending anything in excess of 160. 25-year-old Yash Thakur was star of the night as the seamer returned with figures of 5/30 but before his clean-job, it was Krunal Pandya who used all his experience to run through the GT top-order.

The left-armer’s 3/11 was the most economical spell for LSG and he bettered his own 2/11 vs Punjab Kings in the 2022 edition. The wickets column had been quiet for Krunal in the first three games but he stuck to his job of holding one end up in the first two games (bowled just one over in the third game).

That’s what makes him an asset in this unforgiving format for the bowlers. The 33-year-old can bowl in the powerplay, middle phase of the game and even in the final overs without giving an extra inch to the batters.

Since making his debut in the cash-rich league for Mumbai Indians back in the 2016 season, the all-rounder’s economy continues to be under 8 and remains an impressive 7.55 in the first six overs.

He is not a big turner of the ball, doesn’t have a bag full of tricks but has a smart cricketing brain to outfox even the best in the business. For him, more than his strengths, it’s about exploiting the batter’s weaknesses and planning spells according to that.

“I like to know the batters’ strengths and weaknesses, try to bowl according to it. It comes off some days and it doesn’t some days. I back my strengths and stuck to my plans, one of those days I executed what I wanted, tonight it came off,” he had said after a sensational spell against Gujarat Titans.

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It’s no surprise that he doesn’t go for too many boundaries during his IPL spells and rarely gets hit for sixes. His ability to keep maximums under check is better than even the likes of Rashid Khan and Trent Boult in the IPL.

While one could argue that he is not a big wicket-taker and has picked only 73 wickets from 117 matches but it’s the career economy of 7.27, especially after playing majority of those games at the Wankhede, which stands out. Krunal has continued to ace the containing role to perfection and has been KL Rahul’s go-to bowler in tough situations.

“KP (Krunal Pandya) is very experienced, he’s played IPL for so many seasons,” captain Rahul had said on his all-rounder’s spell on April 7.

It’s not just with the ball where Krunal has managed to make an impact. In his second game of the season, the crafty southpaw smashed an unbeaten 43 off 22 balls to fire LSG to 199/8 vs Punjab Kings. The knock came against a fine bowling attack featuring Kagiso Rabada, Sam Curran and Arshdeep Singh and was another reminder of the difference he can make with the bat too.

There is only one cricketer in the IPL who has over 1,500 runs at a strike-rate of 130+ and 50 wickets at an economy of under 7.50. That cricketer is Krunal Pandya. He has had many memorable batting performances in Mumbai Indians’ blue and gold but will be remembered for his 38-ball 47 in the 2017 IPL final vs Rising Pune Supergiant.

The 33-year-old is eighth on the list of least balls – 702 – taken by Indian batters to reach 1,000 runs in the IPL. The table is topped by Virender Sehwag who got there in 604 balls and also features Krunal’s younger brother Hardik who entered the 1,000-run club in just 651 deliveries.

Still early days in the ongoing edition but Krunal couldn’t have asked for a better start. In the upcoming fixture against a struggling Delhi Capitals in Lucknow on Friday, the all-rounder would look continue with the usual business of giving nothing away!

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