Patrick Noone analyses how the Tallawahs’ spin twins got their CPL season back on track
Jamaica Tallawahs did not get a lot right in their first three matches of this year’s CPL. Their batting has often been one-dimensional and lacking in finesse, their tail has been excessively long and their seamers have not always been reliable.
However, one thing they have resoundingly got right across the tournament is the deployment of their spinners, Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman and Sandeep Lamichhane. The pair have constantly been dependable both as wicket-taking threats and in terms of keeping runscoring to a minimum.
Tonight’s match was the latest chapter in the ever-expanding story of success for these two young men as the Tallawahs went some way to exorcising the demons of their chastening defeat at the hands of Guyana Amazon Warriors on Saturday.
The return fixture followed a similar pattern as the Amazon Warriors were restricted to 108, ten runs fewer than they managed three days ago. That was in large part thanks to Mujeeb and Sandeep spinning a web and bamboozling their opponents to finish with combined figures of 4-23 from their eight overs.
It was Mujeeb who started things off for the Tallawahs’ spin twins, trapping Shimron Hetmyer LBW as the left-hander played for turn that wasn’t there. It was only the fourth ball Mujeeb bowled to Hetmyer across the two matches in this competition and the second time he picked up his wicket without conceding a run.
Sandeep came on at the start of the tenth over and bowled his four overs in a single spell, picking up the wicket of Sherfane Rutherford in his second over as the left-hander attempted to play across the line of a googly. The leg-spinner drew a false shot with 44% of the balls he bowled, the highest percentage of any bowler in the match and no batsman can reasonably say they looked comfortable against him.
He also continued his extraordinary run of not conceding a boundary, a streak that now stands at 52 balls across three separate innings. For all the firepower in the Amazon Warriors batting lineup, they have now faced Sandeep twice without finding the ropes in either contest.
Meanwhile, Mujeeb took the key wicket of Nicholas Pooran with another ball that went straight on to the left-hander and snuck through his defences. All in all, the Amazon Warriors only attacked Mujeeb 25% of the time; only four times in his career has he been attacked less in a four over spell. For a spinner in a T20 match to only be attacked one in every four balls they bowl is testament to how well the Afghan bowled.
The innings as a whole was more evidence of how much the Tallawahs rely on the duo – though honourable mention should go to Fidel Edwards’ performance tonight. Between them, Mujeeb and Sandeep have taken more wickets than the rest of the Tallawahs bowlers combined and have done so at a significantly better economy rate.
Even in victory, the Tallawahs lacked conviction, particularly with the bat. However, there will be relief that they at least got over the line this time and that they won’t have to face bowling attacks of the quality as the Amazon Warriors in their remaining games. They remain well in the mix for the top four and with their spinners in the kind of form they showed tonight, any other concerns about the makeup of their XI can be put to one side.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst