ISLAMABAD: Former Test Cricketer Saqlain Mushtaq believes Pakistani batting legend Saeed Anwar was the maestro of playing off-spin bowling, saying no left-handed batsmen played off-spinners better than him.
“I played some matches against Anwar but have done many rounds with him in the nets. It was very difficult to beat him or take his wicket,” Saqlain said in a video on his YouTube Channel.
Anwar played 55 Tests and 247 ODIs scoring 4,052 and 8,824 runs, respectively. Anwar also captained Pakistan in seven Tests and 11 ODIs.
“Anwar was very skillful and I think there was no other left handed batsman who played off-spinner better than him,” Saqlain, who was the Head of International Player Development at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) High Performance Centre, said.
Saqlain, who was credited with the invention of the “doosra”, said the second left handed batsman who played off-spin better was the Indian cricketer and current Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly.
“Ganguly also had an expertise against the off-spinners. He used to cut, inside-out, sweep against off-spinners. He would charge the bowler whenever he wanted,” he said.
Ganguly who also captained the Indian team, had scored 7,212 runs in 113 Tests and 11,363 runs in 311 ODIs.
“Dada was intelligent, brave and played good on the turning tracks,” he said.
Saqlain said West Indies batsman Brian Lara also played off-spinners very well. “I witnessed once when Lara was in command against the Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan. Muralitharan couldn’t get his hands on him,” he said.
Lara who debuted in international cricket in 1990 against Pakistan, scored 11,953 and 10,405 runs in 131 Tests and 299 ODIs, respectively.
“Unfortunately Lara and I didn’t got to play much. However, previously I used to take his early wickets in Tests and ODIs but after that we had very tough battles,” he said.
Saqlain said Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara was also an outstanding batsman of off-spin bowling. “A tactic was and still is used was to play off-spinners against the left-handed batsmen,” he said.
The former Sri Lankan skipper scored 28,016 runs in international cricket across all formats in a career that spanned 15 years.
“But these (Anwar, Ganguly, Lara, Sangakkara) were some of the few left-handed batsmen who played off-spinners very well and used to create difficulty for the bowler,” he said.
Saqlain said the reason behind these batsmen of how they were able to play off-spin bowling so well was self-belief and courage.
“According to my observation they were brave and had full belief on their skills. They never thought that they will face difficulty playing off spinners,” he said.
“If a bowler is creating pressure on a batsman, then he should come out of the crease sensibly taking calculative risk and play different shots. These (Anwar, Ganguly, Lara, Sangakkara) batsmen used the crease very well,” he said.