Wrist spin has become quite a phenomenon in limited overs cricket in the recent time. While wrist-spinners have always done well, it's in the last few years that more of them are making a noise on the international stage together.
Thus, the impact can be seen and felt. To put things into perspective, as of writing this story there are 3 wrist-spinners in the top 5 of ICC's ODI bowling rankings and 4 in the top 5 of the T20I rankings.
This impact doesn't seem to be diminishing anytime soon. It's like the classic economic upturn where the success of wrist spin leads to an increase in the demand for the skill, which leads to an increase in its price, which in turn pushes the supply and leads to further success.
IPL 2019 is now less than a month away. Every team knows that wrist spinners are going to be crucial if they were to win the title. We saw the manifestation of this fact in the auction where RCB picked the 16-year-old wrist spinner Prayas Ray Barman for INR 1.5 crores, whereas KXIP paid a whooping INR 8.4 crores for uncapped Varun Chakravarthy.
Since the squads are finalised, let's see how the wrist-spinning options of each team stack up. I have considered three things for the rankings: performance in T20s in the last year, availability during IPL 2019, number of options. Let's begin:
#8 Rajasthan Royals: Ish Sodhi and Sudeshan Midhun
Ish Sodhi is currently at No. 8 in ICC's T20I bowling rankings. He's one of those who doesn't get a lot of attention but quietly gets the job done. Much in line with his IPL franchise. In 2018, he managed to bag 48 wickets at an economy of 7.67 in 42 T20 games.
Those numbers are good but then why Rajasthan Royals is at the bottom of this list? Well, it's because Ish Sodhi will likely not have a place in the playing XI.
Rajasthan Royals' four foreign players will be Steven Smith, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, and Jofra Archer. So, if they decide to include a wrist spinner without sacrificing Jofra Archer, then they'll have to go with the unknown Sudeshan Midhun.
All in all, it seems like they are not betting high on wrist spin. They do have a good wrist spin option but they don't have a place for him. It's only as good as not having the option.
#7 Mumbai Indians: Mayank Markande and Rahul Chahar
Mumbai Indians seems to be another team which is not betting big on wrist spin or even on spin, so to speak.
They have got only two specialist spinners in their team in the form of Mayank Markande and Rahul Chahar who share between them an experience of 32 T20 games only.
Last year, Mayank Markande started his IPL career with a bang by picking seven wickets in the first two games for MI. Though, he eventually fizzled out and ended the season with 15 wickets in 14 games.
Availability seems to be not a problem for MI but fact-of-the-matter is that their spinners lack credibility. And this will be a great opportunity for these spinners to change that. To put it decently, let's just say that MI has many strengths but wrist spin doesn't appear to be one at the moment.
#6 Kings XI Punjab: Varun Chakravarty and Murugan Ashwin
As Ravichandran Ashwin is leading the side, there will only be one spot for a specialist spinner. And Kings XI Punjab has got two wrist-spinning options for that spot in the form of Varun Chakravarty and Murugan Ashwin.
As Chakravarthy is added to the squad in the latest auction, and that too for a hefty sum, it's likely that the Mohali-based outfit will back him over M Ashwin.
Varun's shot to fame was TNPL 2018, where he helped his side win the title. He managed to scalp nine wickets for his team, but more importantly, maintained an economy of 4.7 after bowling 140 overs in the tournament.
Availability is not an issue for Kings XI Punjab as both there wrist-spinners don't have any other commitments.
While both the wrist-spinners of Kings XI Punjab lack experience, they certainly add mystery to the attack. It'll be interesting to see how IPL 2019 pans out for them.
#5 Royal Challengers Bangalore: Yuzvendra Chahal and Prayas Ray Barman
2018 has not been as great for Yuzvendra Chahal in T20 as was 2017. He managed to bag 30 wickets in 27 T20 outings last year.
Whereas in 2017, he scalped 37 wickets in 24 outings including a 6-for which has only happened thrice in T20Is so far.
Nevertheless, he has not been completely out of form. In ODIs, he's the No. 5 in ICC's bowling rankings.
As a partner or rather a mentee (considering the age), Chahal has got 16-year-old Prayas Ray Barman.
It's unlikely that he'll get a game, especially at the Chinnaswamy stadium. So, eventually, Chahal will be the lone-ranger for RCB. The good thing is that he'll play the entire tournament if he doesn't get injured.
#4 Chennai Super Kings: Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma
Imran Tahir will play the lead wrist spinner for CSK as they'll look to defend the title for the 4th time in 2019. Always a crowd favourite, Imran Tahir has carved himself a niche in the limited overs format.
Though he just played only one T20 game for South Africa last year, he did play a lot of franchise cricket.
His numbers have been impressive as he managed to scalp 59 wickets in 44 games at an economy of 6.79. In 2018, he was the fourth highest wicket-taker in all of T20 cricket.
It's certain that Imran Tahir will be part of South Africa's World Cup squad, and thus, will likely not be available for the later stages of IPL 2019.
In that scenario, Karn Sharma is CSK's other option. In recent times, he hasn't delivered any notable performances. It's likely that CSK would prefer to play Mitchel Santner in the absence of Imran Tahir.
#3 Sunrisers Hyderabad: Rashid Khan
The current leader of the ICC T20I bowling rankings, Rashid Khan, scalped 96 wickets in 61 T20 games last year with an economy of 6.35. He was the leading wicket-taker of the year in the format.
While there's no doubt that SRH have the best T20 wrist-spinner in their side but there's still doubt on his availability during the entire tournament.
He might be called early to prepare for World Cup 2019. This could prove costly to SRH in the later stages of the tournament as they don't have any back-up wrist spinners.
#2 Delhi Capitals: Amit Mishra and Sandeep Lamichanne
Amit Mishra will lead Delhi Capitals' spin attack in IPL 2019. He's an IPL veteran and holds the record for most number of Hat-tricks (3) in IPL.
He also features at No. 2 in the list of all-time wicket-takers in IPL. His IPL 2018 performance was good but not extraordinarily great. He scalped 12 wickets in 10 appearances with an economy of 7.13.
To accompany Mishra's experience, Delhi has the mystery of Nepal's teenage sensation Sandeep Lamichanne.
The guy has picked 44 wickets in 30 T20 games he has played so far and the economy is an impressive 6.48.
Both the spinners will be available for the entirety of the tournament unless they catch an injury. It'll be interesting to see if DC choose to field them together in the tournament.
#1 Kolkata Night Riders: Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla
2018 saw the meteoric rise of Kuldeep Yadav in International cricket. He bagged 45 wickets in 32 T20 games during the year including a five-wicket haul on his maiden England tour. At the time of writing, he sits at No. 4 in ICC's T20I bowling rankings and is in a great form.
Sharing the burden with Kuldeep in the KKR camp will be Piyush Chawla. He's an experienced IPL customer and sits at No. 3 in the list of all-time wicket-takers. Last year, he became the first player to bag 50+ wickets for two franchises in IPL history.
Both the spinners will likely be available for the entire season. It'll be interesting to see if KKR choose to field both the spinners together.
Top it off with Sunil Narine and you have a spin attack ready to send down shivers in the opposition's camp.