If Australia was the king of cricket in the late 90s, then there were two reasons behind it, first the best wicket-keeper batsman, second one to one big fast bowler. From Glenn McGath to Jason Gillespie, from Brett Lee to Mitchell Johnson, most played their part in the team.
Even today, Australia have two fast bowlers like Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood who are known for their yorkers and line length respectively. But in the final against New Zealand today, Australia will be heavily dependent on the performance of their leg-spinner Adam Zampa.
Leg-spinners have taken a lot of wickets in this World Cup. The highest wicket-taker after Adam Zampa (12) is also a leg-spinner (Wanindu Hasaranga). The pitch in UAE has proved to be helpful for the spin bowlers.
Leg spin is cricket’s most soulful and mind-blowing art, but Zampa’s method is calm and clear. His short stature means he can skid the ball off the pitch, which is his greatest weapon. He bowls at lengths that are difficult to get away from. The difference between his bowling and his colorful personality off the field is evident in his haircut for this tournament: work first and party later.
Zampa has not done any headline work prior to Sunday’s final against New Zealand. He is the leading wicket-taker since the start of the Super 12s and has made it to the Australian team’s list of the best men’s T20 players. Zampa says without a smile, “I’ve always been underestimated. Even by the age of 15 or 16 in the country there was always a guy in town who was better than me or who would have made me spin more I will be underestimated even after this tournament in the series that will happen. I understand all these things.”
Pak batsmen who played better against spin were controlled like this
Against Pakistan, Zampa comes immediately after the powerplay and strikes a balance between attack and defence, where Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan were set up and were yet to score at a decent scoring rate. He swings the ball away from Rizwan twice. A ball that came above his eyes but he had forgotten that Rizwan had mastered the slog sweep. Rizwan hit his ball over midwicket for a six. He pitched an over for Babar, such a ball that he could not come over the ball, evidence of this is visible in Babar’s wicket. He could not time the slog sweep and his missed time slog sweep took the ball to long on.
He combines top-class googlies in front of Fakhar, which is the main weapon against left-handed batsmen. At 60mph or 96kph, he puts on a quick leg brake, which skids across the pitch and pushes it towards deep midwicket for a single.
Zampa conceded only five singles in the 16th over of the semi-final, and this was the fifth time in six matches that he had conceded less than 24 runs in his four overs. Rizwan’s only six at the end of his spell adds to his bowling figures. .
5 wickets taken against Bangladesh is the best spell of this T20 World Cup
The interesting thing is that like Pakistan, Bangladesh team also plays spin bowling better. But Adam Zampa took 5 wickets for 19 runs in 4 overs against Bangladesh, which is the best bowling spell of this World Cup.
Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow’s aggressive batting against England cost him 37 runs in 3 overs, but after this match he still played his role and came forward in the remaining five matches in Ashton Agar’s absence.
Says Zampa “If anything, it made my role even clearer. I know I am in the team to take wickets in the middle overs and in many cases it depends on the match-up. I have delayed innings many times.” Has bowled too.”
“I know my role and I take on those challenges. Spin bowling in the middle overs of T20s can be tough but it’s something I really enjoy. Especially in this tournament,” he said. , I have tried not to be something that I am not, I know what my strengths are and I use them to the best of my ability. I feel confident with my role in this team. I am in the middle of the innings I want to take wickets in the overs itself and luckily I am able to do that now.”
Marcus Stoinis, Zampa’s Melbourne Stars teammate and close friend, says, “I think he has been fantastic. He has complete control over his four overs and in that time, the Zamps keep getting better and better. He’s really honest.”
Zampa has also made technical changes over the past 18 months to improve his control, which has improved him as a bowler and at the age of 29, is heading towards the prime years of his career. Says Zampa, “There are some technical things I like to keep an eye on. I haven’t changed much, but I just try and take a really small step towards it.”
On Sunday, Zampa will take on a New Zealand team that has been cautious in the middle overs during this World Cup and now one of its better players of spin, Devon Conway, has been injured. If Zampa can do wonders in the middle overs, he can help Australia win a phase of the game in which New Zealand have been very good.
“New Zealand have something about them. They’ve made a few finals in other formats and they’ve done it really well, so they’re a tough challenge. I don’t think we’ll be under pressure,” Zampa said. Led really well and he has experience too. It’s going to be a big fight.”