South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj has had a horrible tour of India after two Tests into the 2019 Test series.

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Coming into the Indian series, Keshav Maharaj’s credentials were hyped up. The South African spinner had performed well at home, in Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, on turning wickets and he was expected to do a good job.

However, two Tests into the series, the left-arm spinner has been a massive disappointment. In Vizag, he toiled for 77 overs and returned with five wickets even as India piled on South Africa’s misery. That he was neither containing nor wicket-taking was South Africa’s primary issue.

Among the worst Test spells by visiting spinners in India (max 6 wickets), Maharaj’s haul of 5/318 in 77 overs at Vizag was the worst in terms of runs conceded. Among the five most expensive spells in India by visiting spinners, Maharaj’s haul was the worst. Danish Kaneria, twice in 2007, Nathan Lyon in 2013 at Chennai and Rangana Herath at Mumbai in 2009 had bowled equally worse spells.

Worst Test spells by visiting spinners in India
(Less than 6 wickets | Most runs conceded)

Player

Overs

Maidens

Runs

Wickets

Economy

Year

Ground

KA Maharaj (SA)

77

6

318

5

4.12

2019

Visakhapatnam

Danish Kaneria (PAK)

72.2

10

264

4

3.64

2007

Bengaluru

Danish Kaneria (PAK)

65

7

255

4

3.92

2007

Kolkata

NM Lyon (AUS)

52.3

1

244

4

4.64

2013

Chennai

HMRKB Herath (SL)

53.3

2

240

3

4.48

2009

Mumbai (BS)

Even if Maharaj’s returns were shocking at Vizag, South Africa still held hope because he had coped equally poor returns in the first Test in Sri Lanka before picking a nine-wicket haul at Colombo. The Vizag show was considered a one-off where Maharaj was still acclimatising himself to India.

But at Pune, on another flat wicket, Maharaj sent down another shocking performance. With Dane Piedt dropped and Senuran Muthusamy sparingly used, Maharaj was South Africa’s best bet on a flat wicket where India opted to bat first.

The left-arm spinner, though, conceded 196 runs in a 50-over spell in the first innings. There have been several instances of visiting spinners bowling 50-plus overs on the flat pitches in India but they have mostly returned with more respectable figures.

Worst spells (by strike rate) by visiting spinners in India
(Minimum 50 overs bowled)

Player

Overs

Maidens

Runs

Wickets

Economy

SR

Innings

Venue

Mohammad Nazir (PAK)

52

16

76

0

1.46

-

2

Jalandhar

CG Butts (WI)

50

13

122

0

2.44

-

2

Kolkata

PI Pocock (ENG)

52

14

108

1

2.07

312

1

Kolkata

MS Panesar (ENG)

52

15

81

1

1.55

312

2

Nagpur

PL Harris (SA)

50

5

182

1

3.64

300

2

Kolkata

KA Maharaj (SA)

50

10

196

1

3.92

300

1

Pune

DL Vettori (NZ)

71

24

171

2

2.4

213

3

Mohali

JE Emburey (ENG)

59

14

144

2

2.44

177

2

Mumbai

SD Anurasiri (SL)

58

13

147

2

2.53

174

1

Lucknow

DL Vettori (NZ)

56

24

84

2

1.5

168

2

Mohali

In terms of strike rate, Maharaj’s spell at Pune is among the worst in an innings in India. Having bowled 300 balls in the innings, Maharaj had returned with just one wicket. South Africa’s own Paul Harris had sent another poor spell in Kolkata, picking up just one wicket in 50 overs in 2010. Among the spells by visiting spinners with worst strike rates, Maharaj has the joint fifth-worst.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Anesh Debiky