The knuckleball has emerged as a popular and efficient batsman-trick in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Just two recent instances of the weapon’s potency include Ishant Sharma’s dreamy knuckler, which duped Vijay Shankar, and Sandeep Sharma’s knockout of Rohit Sharma’s bail.
When Zaheer Khan faced former South African pacer Charl Langeveldt in 2010, the knuckleball made its IPL debut. Langeveldt describes his IPL experience as being vague, not being able to recollect the seasons he played in, let alone the names of the organizations he played for, let alone his auction price.
Langeveldt recalls the towns he visited while playing in the IPL, the friends he made, and his affection for filter coffee and biryani despite the veil around his memories. He also remembers their first meeting while competing against one another: Zaheer Khan.
Zaheer approached Langeveldt after practice and requested advice on how to bowl a knuckleball. Incredulous that Zaheer was intrigued by the knuckleball, a delivery that Langeveldt had only sometimes used in international games, Langeveldt demonstrated the fundamental grip and release.
The year was probably 2010, as Mike Hussey famously received a knuckleball from Zaheer in the quarterfinal of the 2011 World Cup not long after. After leaving Zaheer’s clawed fingertips, the ball drifted in front of Hussey, confusing him before warping his stumps. Langeveldt was astounded by Zaheer’s quick turnaround on the delivery and his ability to perfect it.
Langeveldt spent five years perfecting the knuckleball before taking the plunge and bowling one in an international tournament. It had taken Zaheer less than a year to turn the delivery into a reliable wicket-taking tool from a change-ball.
Following the World Cup, Zaheer, and Langeveldt joined the Royal Challengers Bangalore as teammates. When Zaheer requested instruction on how to bowl the knuckleball he used against Hussey, Langeveldt was taken aback.
Zaheer was interested in the delivery and sought more information. They frequently talked about knuckleball and its different technical facets. In his day, the knuckleball was employed to interrupt the game’s flow and was not thought of as a method for getting wickets, according to Langeveldt. Today, bowlers frequently employ it to trick batsmen and take wickets.
Knuckleball has undoubtedly grown in popularity among bowlers in recent years. For example, Australian seamer Andrew Tye of the Gujarat Lions has made excellent use of it, crafting two of his three hat-trick deliveries with the knuckles. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Siddharth Kaul, and Sandeep Sharma are just a few of the Indian bowlers who have warmed up to their potential.
At the death, Mohit Sharma, who learned it from Bhuvneshwar, was exceptionally skilled with it. It is amazing how rapidly these bowlers have mastered this move; Mohit first experimented with it at the beginning of 2017 and used it in the same match, while Bhuvneshwar started using it towards the conclusion of the Australia Test series. The knuckleball has in fact developed into a highly effective tool in bowlers’ toolboxes all around the world.
In conclusion, Zaheer Khan’s interest in the delivery and his ability to swiftly master it has contributed to the knuckleball’s rise to popularity and effectiveness in the IPL. Although Langeveldt’s memory of his time in the IPL is foggy, he does recall Zaheer’s contribution to the knuckleball’s acceptance in the league.