What Made Mohsin Khan The Most Effective Indian Bowler In IPL 2022?
‘Mohsin will be donning the Blue jersey soon the way he is going,’ KL Rahul had said earlier this season.
It was not the best of IPL starts for Lucknow Super Giants’ Mohsin Khan, who conceded 18 runs in two overs against Gujarat Titans, and was dropped for the subsequent matches. For the last three years, he has been warming the bench at Mumbai Indians who first picked him in 2018 and bought him again in 2020. The frustrated Mohsin would often call up his childhood coach Badruddin Siddiqui to vent his frustrations.
If not for Avesh Khan’s injury, he might not have gotten another chance this year. His next appearance against his former franchise Mumbai Indians proved to be a turning point. He bowled well to concede just 27 runs, and since then, his stocks have grown by leaps and bounds. The troika of Dushmantha Chameera, Avesh Khan, and Jason Holder, soon became a pace quartet.
The Game That Catapulted Mohsin Khan To Limelight
While Mohsin Khan was stepping up consistently for Lucknow, bowling tough overs and squeezing the run flow, it was his performance against Delhi Capitals that catapulted him to the limelight. In a game where both teams scored close to 200 runs, Mohsin’s bowling figures read 4/16. If not for Mohsin’s intervention, Delhi might have cruised through the target.
His four victims were David Warner, Rishabh Pant, Rovman Powell, and Shardul Thakur. After getting the better of Warner in his first over, he was held back by Lucknow Super Giants. For the next nine overs, he was the spectator of everything transpiring between the 22 yards strip. His latest memory would include Rishabh Pant and Rovman Powell taking the game away from LSG. Pant has already struck seven fours and a six during his brief stay, and he was looking in sublime touch that evening.
Bowling to Pant, when he is in full flow, can be a deflating experience. But it took just four balls for Mohsin to tangle Pant in his well-executed trap. To understand Mohsin’s craftsmanship, you need to go through four balls preceding the dismissal. He started with a back-of-length delivery just outside the off-stump, which Pant couldn’t nail.
He planned to keep the ball away from Pant’s arc, make him reach for it, and in the process, lose his balance. His next two deliveries were, again, around the length band and just outside the off. Pant pulled one of them to the leg side but managed just a single. Two balls later, Pant was again back on the strike. Anticipating another length ball around off, the DC skipper has already trudged down the ground. This is where Mohsin took him by surprise, darting a fullish delivery around the middle stump that sneaked through Pant’s gate to disrupt the stumps.
Three overs later, he got the better of Rovman Powell to seal the game for his team. Mohsin Khan was adjudged as the Player of the Match that night, and he has not looked back since then.
What Made His The Most Frugal Bowler OF IPL 2022?
While 14 wickets in nine matches are no mean feat for a player in his debut season, his economy of 5.97 is even more impressive. In a very short span, Mohsin has made a name for himself, and batters now try to play out his overs as much as they can. Barring the game against Rajasthan Royals, where he conceded 43 runs in four overs, he has managed to contain some of the most destructive forces in the tournament.
What makes him so effective? Versatility. Mohsin can bowl consistently over 140kph, and can mix it up with a slower one without any noticeable change in his action, which is an important trait to have in this format. He has also shown his ability to land pinpoint yorkers, though there is a scope for improvement here. Moreover, his natural left-arm angle creates another problem for the batters.
His wicket-maiden against Kolkata Knight Riders is a great starting point for understanding what Mohsin brings to the table. With a hint of movement on the pitch, the 23-year-old started his spell with a couple of outswingers, before going full and on the pads of Baba Indrajith that nearly trapped him leg-before. Two more dots added extra pressure on Indrajith, who was then taken aback by a rising delivery into him, and handed an easy catch at square-leg.
Even his skipper KL Rahul found it tough to play him in the nets. “I played him in the nets for the first time a month ago. Didn’t want to face him,” Rahul said.
“Seriously. He was sharp. He is scary at times in nets. It’s not just the pace. He has good brains, has a bit of skill as well. Has a great slower one and knows when to use it. Eager to learn. Eager to play. He has been a confident guy even under pressure. He has bowled some really big overs for us.”
Can Mohsin End India’s Left-Arm Seamer Woes?
Ever since Zaheer’s Khan retirement, India has struggled to find a left-arm seamer. They have tried Khaleel Ahmed, Barinder Sran, and Jaydev Unadkat, but it didn’t work out. Khaleel was drafted in the team even when he had visible cracks in his game, while Unadkat hasn’t translated his domestic cricket heroics to the international stage.
“If you have that variation (left-armer’s), it’s certainly an advantage but you don’t have to go crazy about trying to find a left-armer. It is all about contributing to team’s cause. Left-arm pacers are natural talent and you don’t have control over when you will get one,” Zaheer Khan once said.
Team India have no dearth of fast bowlers in their rank, thus it won’t be easy to break into the side on the back of one good season. But their perennial struggles with finding a fast-bowler all-rounder and a left-arm seamer means there’s always a place for players who offers these two skillsets. This is why Venkatesh Iyer, a batter who can bowl medium pace, found himself in the national side after performing well in a handful of matches.
Mohsin, meanwhile, is way ahead of Khaleel Ahmed and Barinder Sran in terms of skill and execution. Time and again, he has scalped the big fish in his debut season. In the Eliminator, he dismissed Faf du Plessis for a golden duck with an absolute peach of a delivery.
While Mohsin can outfox the batters in the T20 with his varieties, he can also bowl the Test match length, as he showed in his first over against Kolkata Knight Riders. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, Mohsin Khan has claimed 43 wickets at an economy of just over six.
“Mohsin has been outstanding for us in the last few games. He’s got the skills but the key thing has been his knowledge of when to use those skills. He’ll be donning the Blue jersey soon the way he is going,” KL Rahul said earlier this season.
Featured Image Credit: @BCCI/IPL