U-19 World Cup: Left-arm spinner Vicky Ostwal making heads turn

Vicky Ostwal’s ability to generate turn and bounce has made him an asset for India at the ongoing ICC U-19 World Cup. Add to it his pinpoint accuracy and it’s no surprise that the left-arm spinner has troubled all the teams in the competition.

The Indian team was affected by a Covid-19 outbreak but Ostwal is one of the few players to have played all the matches. The lanky youngster is third on the wicket-takers’ list with 12 scalps in five games, including a fifer against South Africa.

Going back in time, his coach Mohan Jadhav, who has watched Ostwal from close quarters for the past 10 years, tells The Indian Express: “He hates going for a run. He is a spinner, but has the mentality of a fast bowler. He is six feet tall and because of his height, causes trouble for batsmen with his bounce.”

Jadhav, who is also the coach of opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, explains how Ostwal has improved as a bowler.

“He is from this Indian Premier League (IPL) generation. He grew up watching IPL, and till his U-16 days, his only focus was to bowl wicket-to-wicket. You can’t blame a 15-year-old, who is afraid of getting hit,” recalls Jadhav.

He says it took Ostwal two years to add more variations to his bowling. “In an U-16 match, he bowled some 20 overs and gave away 35 or 40 runs and took two wickets. I just told him he could bowl with more freedom. He might have ended up with a five-wicket haul,” recalls the coach.

During an interview for the International Cricket Council (ICC), Ostwal said that there is no substitute for a good work ethic and discipline, and he must be patient and trust the process.

In 2019, he was a net bowler for Chennai Super Kings (CSK). One of his fondest memories is getting Shane Watson out. He says, “I was thrilled when I got him out. It was in the nets, but I will still take it.”

With time, Ostwal started to give the ball more air, and found that drift and turn.

“That CSK camp helped him a lot. He had a long chat with Imran Tahir, and was a different bowler when he returned. With more variations, it became more difficult for batsmen to negotiate him. He will not give an inch because of his high-arm action. He forces batsmen to take risks, and this is where he deceives them. Even in this (U-19 World Cup) tournament, you can see batsmen getting out trying to play him against the spin. The top edge and LBW will always be in play when he is bowling,” says Jadhav.

The coach considers the wicket of Australian batsman Tobias Snell the best among the 12 wickets Ostwal has picked in the tournament.

“He set up that batsman (Snell) beautifully. First ball of the over, a bit of turn, he guided it towards midwicket and took two runs. The next ball was another length ball on off stump, but there was more turn. Third ball, he again played across the line and pushed for a single to short midwicket. Fifth ball, same length, he goes for an inside-out shot. Last ball of the over – a straight one, no turn, he misses, and it hits the top of off-stump,” Jadhav shares the details.

“I immediately texted him that now you are a complete package,” he adds.

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