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Vidarbha’s Akshay Karnewar: A switch-bowling wonder

Posted in Sports


Published on January 22, 2016 with No Comments

Left, right or both? can bowl with either arm

“As a six year-old, my coach asked me to leave right-arm off-spin and start

bowling left-arm. It was difficult initially because your left-arm doesn’t possess the

strength to send the ball 22 yards. But I guess because I batted left-handed, I

managed to gain strength in my left arm eventually. Since then, I have been a left-

arm spinner who can also bowl off-spin,”

But the long wait for cricket’s first ambidextrous cricketer might just be over.

What’s more, he’s from Indian shores. Vidarbha’s Akshay Karnewar is just 23

years old and has a long way to go yet, but if he can harness his unique skills, he

could easily be the next big thing in cricket.

What’s so special about him? Karnewar is probably the first serious ambidextrous

cricketer to have played the game. A glimpse of his ability was seen in a Syed

Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 Trophy tie between Vidarbha and Baroda.

Karnewar can bowl both right arm off-spin and left-arm spin. And as evidenced in

the above video, he seems to have pretty good control over both, switching

between arms between overs and even in the middle of overs. He finished with

0/22 in his three overs, but was unlucky not to bag a wicket when Irfan Pathan was

dropped off his bowling.

The 23-year old started off as an off-spinner, but then his eagle-eyed coach Balu

Navghare noticed that he was comfortable with his left arm too. With his coach’s

encouragement, Karnewar started bowling with his left arm as well, growing in

confidence. And though he is still a greenhorn (only seven List A matches so far),

there is no doubt that his unusual ability makes him a definite standout.

Captains are only happy to have him. “Mostly we play one spinner. Since I am a batting

all-rounder who can also bowl, most captains can include an extra all-rounder. That

provides the team depth in batting without sacrificing a bowler.”

Batsmen not familiar with the laws of cricket ask the umpire whether this bowling switch

is legitimate. “It’s not a problem. You just have to inform the umpire beforehand that you

will be bowling left-arm to a right-hander and right-arm to a left hander. There is no law

which restricts you,” he explained.

He has seven wickets from eight games in the ongoing Mushtaq Ali tournament. With

the IPL auction due next month, Karnewar is hopeful. “I hope I get a contract this year.

Maybe some franchise has noticed my style of bowling and would want me in the side,”

he told a leading Indian TV channel.


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