Noida: The game of Cricket is evolving every day, and so is with bowling. After using ‘googley’ and ‘yorker’ delivery for years, the bowlers invented ‘Doosara’ and ‘Carom-Ball’, which remained a grand success for years. But with time, the charm of these deliveries has also faded and a new type of delivery has been opted by the bowlers, especially pacers, called the ‘knuckleball’.
Zaheer Khan was the first Indian bowler to use this technique but now it has been mastered by some other young talents as well. The delivery is still a mystery for the batsmen as it not only makes drastic movements in the air but also comes at a slower speed.
What is knuckleball?
- This ball bowling technique has been adopted from baseball. It, however, is a misnomer as it isn’t thrown with the knuckles but with the fingernails.
- This technique helps the bowler in removing all the spin from the ball.
- The bowlers who are using this technique have to make sure that they maintain the same arm speed they use for bowling the stock ball, to deceive the batsmen.
- Some bowlers grip the ball with their fingernails’ tip, while some have modified it as per their convenience.
- To bowl a knuckleball perfectly, the wrist should be kept straight and the ball should be pushed towards the surface instead of throwing. It will remove all the rotation from the ball and it will only move in the air.
- The contrast between the smooth surface of the ball and its stitched seam causes the ball to travel unpredictably on the pitch.
Where from the knuckleball came?
The knuckleball was first bowled by a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Japan. She bowled a sidearm knuckleball which turned out to be a sensation in the game of baseball.
Her unique talent found her a place in the men’s team of Japanese professional baseball. She was the first girl ever to get a place in the men’s team.
Who are the Indian bowlers who have mastered the knuckleball technique?
There are two Indian pacemen who are using this technique to not only trouble but to get rid of the batsmen are none other than Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur.
Bhuvi has established himself as the perfect death bowler while Shardul recently proved his worth in the Nidahas Trophy when the senior bowlers were rested, and knuckleball played an instrumental role in their success.
Bhuvi has got many variations in the armory such as off-cutter, leg-cutter, full pace and slower-ones, but knuckleball has turned out to be his deadliest weapon over the past few months. He has not only maintained a healthy economy rate during the powerplays and death overs but has also picked up wickets.
Shardul was hit for 27 runs in his first over in the first Nidahas Trophy match against Sri Lanka, but his grip over the knuckleball helped him finish the match with 0/42 in 3.3 overs when Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera were dealing in boundaries.
As the series progressed, his performance only improved and he was also instrumental in keeping the scoring rate of the opponents down throughout the series which India won by securing a last-ball victory over Bangladesh in the final.
Both the bowlers have practiced the technique of knuckleball for over a year before finally using it against the batsmen at the international level. And their hard work is really paying off nicely.