Meet Vidarbha’s Akshay Karnewar, who bowls off-spin and left-arm spin depending on whether a right or left-hander is facing him
Akshay Karnewar is an all-rounder in the truest sense of the term. He bats left-handed and can spin the ball with both arms equally well. Not just his bowling, his ability to throw with both arms is another skill that makes everyone sit up and take notice.
Vidarbha’s Akshay Karnewar bowls left-arm spin during the Mushtaq Ali T20 tie vs Mumbai at Wankhede on Saturday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
After ending up sixth in the list of top wicket-takers in the recently-concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy one-dayers with 16 in seven matches for Vidarbha, the 23-year-old lad has also caught the fancy of those following the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali T20
Karnewar’s unique skill set has baffled batsmen. To left-handers, Karnewar opts to bowl off-spin with his right hand. He switches to his left hand to bowl to right-handers.
“It was my coach Balu Naoghare who wanted me to learn an extra skill. I tried practicing it and I was comfortable bowling with both arms. I practiced harder for perfection in line and length because I didn’t want it to turn into an embarrassment.
ortunately, everything worked well for me and I enjoy bowling with both hands,” Karnewar told SUNDAY mid-day.
Karnewar’s craft was there for everyone to see on Friday at the Wankhede Stadium when his Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal threw him the ball in the 15th over to thwart the flowing blades of Baroda’s in-form batsmen Hardik Pandya (right-handed batsman) and southpaw Irfan Pathan. The umpire was naturally taken aback when Karnewar informed him that he would bowl off-spin to Irfan and left-arm spin to Pandya.
Karnewar managed to create two opportunities in that over, but poor fielding by his Vidarbha teammates dulled his brilliance. Baroda, riding on Pandya’s strokeplay, beat Vidarbha comprehensively and Karnewar finished with 2-0-15-1.
On Saturday, Karnewar did not get an opportunity to bowl with both arms to the Mumbai batsmen, as the top four batters were all right-handers. Vidarbha lost to Mumbai by five wickets while Karnewar finished with 2-0-23-0.
‘Off-spin came naturally’
Karnewar said bowling off-spin came naturally to him. “I do a lot of general things in my life with both my hands, so my family is also confused what I exactly do with which hand. My strong arm is my right hand. Later on, my coach told me to try left-arm spin as there was a dearth of left-arm spinners in the team. So, I practiced left-arm spin and it started coming off well. I started bowling left-arm thereafter.
“At the Vidarbha U-19 camp I started bowling with both my hands again after being encouraged by our coach Sulakshan Kulkarni,” said Karnewar. The talented tweaker was in the Vidarbha probables last season and is yet to make his first-class debut. Karnewar’s top priority is consistency in all three departments — batting, off-spin and left-arm spin!
Wasim Jaffer, former India Test opener and Karnewar’s Vidarbha teammate He is truly exceptional. I couldn’t believe when I first saw him in the nets. He is a good, utility player in limited overs cricket. I am surprised why no one has picked him in the IPL. He also bats well and can be a good asset.
Aditya Tare, Mumbai skipper
Having such a talent is always a big advantage for a captain. The skipper gets two varieties in one over.
I don't think there is any major impact on batsmen because you will play him as an off-spinner or left-arm spinner.