Doosra in Cricket – What is it and How it Bowled?

It’s one of the newer mystery balls in cricket but how much do we know about the Doosra? Here’s a guide to its evolution along with instructions on how to implement it.

What is a Doosra in Cricket

A Doosra is a ball delivered by an off spinner. Instead of turning in the traditional manner, from off to leg to a right hander, it should spin from the leg side to the off side.

The Doosra is bowled with just a subtle change to the delivery process. It should be hard for a batter to detect so that they will not expect the ball to turn in an opposite direction.

Brief History of the Doosra – Meaning of the Word

The term ‘Doosra’ comes from the Hindu and Urdu languages. Here, the word means second or other. It’s a spin bowler’s alternative so it could be called their ‘second’ or ‘other’ delivery.

The man credited with perfecting the Doosra is former Pakistan international Saqlain Mushtaq. In the same way that leg spinners have a googly, Saqlain wanted a mystery ball for off spinners.

It’s stated that Pakistan domestic cricketer Prince Aslam Khan invented the Doosra but Saqlain Mushtaq was the man to perfect it and bring it to a wider audience.

How is it Bowled? – The Technique

Grip and Run-up

The Doosra should be a surprise ball so the purpose is to keep the technique similar to that of a conventional off spinning delivery.

You should start off with an identical grip. The seam of the ball will run across the fingers with the thumb bent and out of the way. This is the traditional off spinner’s grip and the same is applied when bowling the Doosra.

Release

The release is the tricky part and this is where a lot of bowlers will come unstuck. Similarities to a regular off spin delivery will continue. The wrist is rotated so that the back of the hand will face square leg.

The shoulder of the delivery arm will now drop. One of the key differences with the Doosra is that the elbow is bent a fraction more than it will be for a traditional off spin delivery. Bowlers must be extremely careful not to bend that elbow too much or this will be declared as a throw.

This slight bending means that the ball will be delivered from a lower position than with a standard off spinner. This helps with the mechanics of the Doosra but now comes the crucial bit.

Spinning

It’s that wrist position that helps the ball to spin in an opposite direction. The back of the hand is facing towards square leg when delivered by a right arm bowler. The spin is still imparted by the middle and index fingers.

If carried out correctly, the ball will now turn in the opposite direction to that of a standard off spinning delivery.

Those are the mechanics behind the Doosra. It’s a very difficult delivery to perfect so you can expect to spend a lot of time in the nets while you master it.

Masters of Bowling a Doosra

Muttiah Muralitharan

He was considered by many to be the best off spinner in the history of cricket and the Doosra was an important ball for Muttiah Muralitharan. He caused some controversy with his action and his Doosra came under particular scrutiny.

Murali was no balled by standing umpires during the early stages of his career and he was subsequently sent for testing. Those tests proved that he was not infringing regulations and that both his stock delivery, and his Doosra, were perfectly legal.

When his career came to an end, Muralitharan’s statistics spoke for themselves. In 133 test matches he took 800 wickets, more than any other bowler and that’s a record that may never be beaten. Murali’s Doosra also proved useful in ODIs where he claimed another 534 victims in 350 games.

Doosra in Cricket - What is it and How it Bowled?
Muttiah Muralitharan

Harbhajan Singh

A number of Indian bowlers have looked to perfect the Doosra over the years. Some of today’s off spinners use it as part of their weaponry but Harbhajan Singh is widely regarded as the best of all time in this respect.

He is another bowler who had some issues with the bent arm early on in his career but he worked hard to rectify it. In the latter stages of his playing days, Bhaji seemed to get more confident if he took an early wicket. If that was the case, all of his variations came out.

Harbhajan would mix up his regulation off spinners with Doosras and arm balls and he was extremely hard to pick. He’s recently retired after an effective career in all forms of the game. In 367 matches for India in those three formats, Bhaji took an incredible 711 wickets.

Doosra in Cricket - What is it and How it Bowled?
Harbhajan Singh bowling

Shoaib Malik

Pakistan’s Shoaib Malik is known as a batting all rounder. Run scoring is the most important part of his game but his bowling is seriously underrated. Add in the fact that he has a very effective Doosra means that we should all be very impressed.

It’s interesting to note that a lot of bowlers who used the Doosra had to undergo remedial work because of those questions over their action. Shoaib was one of those and he worked hard to get things right.

As for his stats, Shoaib was more effective in One Day Internationals where he took 158 wickets in 287 games. His best international figures of 4/19 also came in an ODI.

Doosra in Cricket - What is it and How it Bowled?
Shoaib Malik

Saqlain Mushtaq

The man who really began to develop the craft deserves to have his name on this list. Saqlain Mushtaq was effective enough as a conventional off spinner but he always liked to innovate.

While the Doosra had been invented some time before Saqlain started to use it, this was a very rare delivery at the time. Batsmen didn’t really know what was happening as the Pakistani off spinner unleashed his new ball.

There are many who feel that Saqlain was by far the best exponent of this art because there was no detectable change in his arm action. Unless the batter could detect any subtle change in his hand when the ball was delivered, they had no idea that the Doosra was coming.

Saqlain’s form dipped at the end of his career but he was the most potent off spinner in world cricket for a time. In 218 international matches across tests and ODIs, he took 496 wickets with a best in tests of 8/164.

Is Doosra Ball Legal?

Yes, a Doosra ball is perfectly legal. As long as the bowler meets all other necessary requirements, this is within the laws of the game. Umpires will pay particular attention to the bowler’s arm to make sure that there is no straightening and no question of there being a throw.

The problem is that some players find it very difficult to bowl a Doosra and keep within the laws relating to legal deliveries.

If there is no throw then it is legal to bowl a Doosra in cricket.