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Akshay Karnewar: The Ambidextrous Bowler Who Has Taken The Irani Cup By Storm

Cricket, as a game, has evolved a lot over the period of time. Starting with sticking to the basics of both bowling and batting, to playing unconventional shots and differentiating the bowling speeds and styles, cricket is on a constant path of evolution. 

It is quite a sight indeed to witness players like David Warner and Kevin Pietersen, who can bat both right and left-handed. And to support that, a recent example could be of Warner, who is a conventional left-handed batsman, but batted right-handed for a few balls while playing Chris Gayle in the Bangladesh Premier League.  

Akshay Karnewar: India's first Ambidextrous Bowler© BCCI

But now it looks like the switching part is not just restricted to batting. The bowling sensation of Vidarbha, Akshay Karnewar, showed his exemplary skills in the Irani trophy match, where he surprised both Umpire Nandan and the batsman, Ishan Kishan when he informed the umpire to bowl right handed off-spin.

Already bagging the wicket of Shreyas Iyer by his conventional left-arm off-spin, Karnewar decided to welcome Kishan with a surprise by bowling a right-handed off-spin. However, he didn't stick to this for long and resumed bowling right-handed as both Kishan and Hanuma Vihari were unaffected by the change.

Turns out this was not the first time the Satara lad had done something like this. Right from his junior cricket days, he has turned heads with his ability to bowl both left-arm spin and right-arm off-spin. Once, he even surprised 'The Hitman' Rohit Sharma, when both of them played for Indian Oil. Sharma even called Karnewar to the Indian team's net practice many years ago, where he managed to stun Sachin Tendulkar. 

Akshay Karnewar: India's first Ambidextrous Bowler© BCCI

It all started in Pandharkawda in Maharashtra's Yavatmal district, where the 26-year-old was born to a bus driver. Karnewar initially started to bowl off-spin, but his coach Balu Naoghare suggested he give left-arm spin a try as well.

“I was a right-arm off-spinner but used to throw with my left hand. One day, my coach asked if I could bowl left-arm spin. Initially, I struggled but after two years I became a left-arm spinner,” he recalls. 

Karnewar went on to represent Vidarbha as a left-arm spinner. Calling this skill his secret weapon, the ambidextrous bowler said that he uses this skill only when his team requires it the most. 

“I have bowled before too but this was probably the first time it came on television. Last year, I bowled during the one-dayers (Vijay Hazare Trophy) and got wickets from off-spin. Today, since Ishan Kishan is a left-hander and he likes to go after spinners, my captain Faiz Fazal said I should try off-spin. So I tried. When Hanuma Vihari came I bowled left-arm spin,” Karnewar told The Indian Express.

With Karnewar starting a new trend, let's hope many other cricketers also show up with the ability to bowl from both hands.

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