Hasaranga’s transformation from rhythm to mastery of wrist rotation

Wanindu Hasaranga was picked up for a huge sum of INR.  10.75 crore per BCR

Wanindu Hasaranga was picked up for a huge sum of INR. 10.75 crore by RCB ©BCCI/IPL

At around 16, a young Wanindu Hasaranga was a sewn bowler and had the responsibility of opening the bowling alley at Richmond College. But fate had something else in store for him. He saw a demonstration from his trainer on how to rotate the legs and decided to follow in his trainer’s footsteps.

He also had the conviction and the will to learn the nuances of a craft that required years of investment. His trainer also believed in his protege and it didn’t take long for the duo to have an everlasting bond.

“When you become a fast bowler, you need rhythm and strength. The reason I wanted to convert Hasaranga into a leg spinner was because of his great arm speed. I had a belief to convert him into a great leg spinner,” Hasaranga coach Lakmal de Silva tells Cricbuzz. “When I demonstrated leg-spin bowling…since I was a leg-spinner myself, he thought, ‘If my coach can do it, why can’t I?’ So over time it became consistent with its lengths and lines and developed variations.

“Hasaranga’s first impression and later realization was that he loved a challenge. He has a lot of self-confidence and learns quickly, which is what made him stand out at a young age. but he did not give up or give up,” he adds.

All the investment in the pace-turn bowling transformation shop worked for the young prodigy as he nailed a local tournament. “At 17 he played in an Under-17, Over-50 and Over-50 tournament and took 28 wickets in six games and that gave him enormous confidence,” observes his coach.

But such is the bittersweet nature of the sport that initial success can be followed by a slide. In Hasaranga’s case, over time the batters began to pick up on his net bowling and bowled it without too much trouble. So he put on the hard yards and developed a googly with a three-finger grip. Just that he ended up using so much of his new variation that he lost his ability to do a leg break.

“Over time he played in the nets against good batsmen and they played him easily. That spurred him on to learn more variations. So he tried a googly or fake-one, which was basically into a three-finger grip. So as he got more and more googly, he lost his ability to throw his staple ball, the leg-spinner.”

While his student paddled through the swampy waters, his coach served as a guide. Lakmal based the structure of the young spinner’s development on trying to improve his muscle memory. This is to improve “muscle movement” through practice and repetition. Thus, the training arena was once again Hasaranga’s evolution room as he repeated the same method over and over again to develop muscle memory.

Hasaranga’s trainer also imparted the knowledge of using a scrambled seam grip for his googly. The basis of the idea was based on how legendary Indian spinner Anil Kumble worked.

“I had to develop his muscle memory. What I did was I told him to try the googly with a scrambled grip. It was inspired by seeing Anil Kumble’s bowl for the India. Through these demonstrations, he got an idea about which grips he should use to throw his stock ball and the variations.”

There was another hurdle for Hasaranga to overcome. He had to find a way to keep the batter from deciphering the difference between his googly and the leg-break. So the coach made a plan of action in which he had to throw every ball with a scrambled seam.

“He finally mastered the googly. But after that the biggest challenge came as he used different grips to roll his leggie (first, second and third finger) and the googly (thumb, first and second finger). Over time, his teammates at school started to differentiate between the googly and the leg spinner very easily. Hasaranga asked, “what should we do about it?” I said – let’s try first every ball with a scrambled grip.Eventually, he began to master the art of bowling leg rotation.

Hasaranga has been a key bowler for Sri Lanka in recent years

Hasaranga has been a key bowler for Sri Lanka in recent years ©Getty

There are a few other key characteristics of Hasaranga’s bowling that make him a potent force in limited overs cricket. One of them is that there is no significant difference between the release points of his googly and the leg-break. Another trait of Hasaranga bowling is that he mostly plays a stump-to-stump line and drives the batter forward. Thus, the batter must be mindful of each returning mode when attempting a shot against the spinner.

“As for Hasaranga’s biggest strength – which is his googly – compared to other leg-spinners, there isn’t a huge difference in the release points of his googly and his leg-spinner. Normally , when you play a googly your hand position is higher than your normal delivery, but this is not the case with Hasaranga. What sets Hasaranga apart is his speed and consistency for a leg spinner; he gets a big loop and dip when he throws the googly. His wicket-to-wicket bowling, which is a combination of his lengths and his speed, always encourages batsmen to play him with the front foot.”

Over the past five years, Hasaranga has vindicated his manager’s confidence in him by picking up truckloads of wickets in international cricket. Not only as a bowler, but he is also well known for his useful batting and fielding skills. Hasaranga’s versatile skills also caught the eye of many bidders during the mega IPL auction held recently as RCB bought him for a huge sum of INR. 10.75 crore. The spinner repays the trust shown by the Bangalore franchise as he is their highest wicket taker in the ongoing IPL 2022.

But among all the accolades and achievements of his pupil, the one moment that stands out for his proud manager is Hasaranga who scored a hat-trick on his international debut against Zimbabwe in Galle.

“The most unforgettable moment I have of Hasaranga was when he scored a hat trick on his international debut in 2017 against Zimbabwe in Galle. I was there at the stadium watching and I felt very happy since Galle was Hasaranga’s home ground since he played most of his games there for Richmond College.”

© Cricbuzz

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