Long before Australian cricketers no longer felt like they were in alien conditions on an Indian tour, every tour posed a new challenge. The hot and humid conditions, and the mystery of crafty Indian spinners always pushed the Australians to the limits of their cricketing ability. The picture has changed a lot in the last ten years, primarily because of the IPL and the number of cricketers from down under playing in the tournament.
But on Tuesday, in a practice match against the Board President’s XI in Chennai, the Australian batsmen faced a spin challenge the likes of which they had never faced before. Twenty four year old Akshay Karnewar ambled up to bowl the first over his spell – right arm off spin from around the wicket to left-handed Travis Head. However, when right-handed Marcus Stoinis took strike, Karnewar simply changed his side (and bowling arm) at the same time! This unexpected ambidextrous bowling from Karnewar reportedly left the Australians stunned.
Stoinis told cricket.com.au after the match, “I actually didn’t know what the umpire was trying to tell me. He was trying to say, ‘He’s going to bowl left arm to you.’ So that’s brilliant by him. I’ve never seen that before. Ever.”
Even before the match against Board President’s XI, Karnewar had displayed this ambidextrous side to his cricketing skill-set during the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy against Baroda. It was the Karnewar’s coach Balu Navghare who encouraged him to make his left-arm bowling action as strong as his right-arm bowling action, after he saw that Karnewar was comfortable with his left arm while bowling.
Akshay Karnewar bowled both right-handed and left-handed in the same over against Baroda. pic.twitter.com/uTxJGb6qGq
— Jitender Singh (@j_dhillon6) January 19, 2016
With the right guidance, opportunities and performances, we can only imagine the reaction that Karnewar would elicit if he ever displays his rare ability in an international match for India!