Karachi: Retired spin king Saqlain Mushtaq yesterday defended the controversial "doosra" delivery he invented, which has come under renewed scrutiny since Saeed Ajmal's chucking ban last week.

Saqlain Mushtaq. Pic/AFP
Saqlain Mushtaq. Pic/AFP 

The doosra, which means "the second one" in Urdu, turns from legside to offside — the opposite direction to orthodox off breaks. It is bowled from the back of the hand with a lot of top-spin, though the bowler's wrist still moves in a clockwise direction, making it difficult for a batsman to pick.

Saqlain is credited with its invention, adding to a list of Pakistani innovations in cricket including the batsman's reverse-sweep and reverse swing bowling.

But the delivery has come to be regarded with deep suspicion by many, particularly in Australia and England, where critics charge that doosra bowlers bend their arm beyond the permissible 15 degree limit.

Saqlain, who took 208 Test and 288 one-day wickets, told AFP from London the naysayers were wrong. "Who says doosra is illegal?" he asked. "It can easily delivered within the allowed rules. It is not an easy delivery to bowl but if a bowler becomes expert he doesn't transgress limits.

"You need to have strong muscles to bowl a doosra, then fitness matters, also grip, rhythm and follow through. If just one of these things is missing then you get out of limits," he added.

On the invention...
Saqlain recalled how he discovered the delivery while playing cricket with a table tennis ball. "I used to play with my brother and cousin at the roof of my house in Lahore and tried the doosra with a table tennis ball," he said.

"I got very excited when the ball turned the other way. I tried and tried and perfected it and when I used to go to play club matches I would baffle the batsmen with doosra." Saqlain will arrive in Lahore next week to start remedial work on Ajmal's action.