In all the sub-chapters cricket brings to every match, the greatest mysteries belong to the subtlety of a world-class spin-bowler.

We wince at the threats from fast-bowlers but note the amount of body armour batsmen wear to reinforce their confidence and choice of shot against the speedsters.

None of that protection helps against the tweakers, men like India's Kuldeep Yadav, whose left-arm slows float down the track and turn the batsmen's minds to mush, as Pakistan's leg-spinner Yasir Shah did to the New Zealand batsmen this week.


Shah created an hour of chaos in Dubai as NZ collapsed for 90 in their first innings to send the side to an inevitable defeat and the series to next week's decider in Abu Dhabi.

Shah bowled superbly with his variations of speed, drift and turn, but the NZ batsmen, apart from captain Kane Williamson in the first dig, then Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham in the second, looked like newcomers to the game against a veteran. They were mentally fried and unable to find the rudiments to combat the leggie.

The NZ batsmen will be having fractured sleep patterns as they unpick their first innings malpractice. All the demons of uncertain footwork festered against Shah and left them caught between awkward defence or lunging strokeplay, and as that frailty compounded, the leggie speared in for the kill.

Trying to pick Shah or Yadav out of their hand is hard enough even with the advantages of giant television screens and replays, and many former test players in commentary struggle to come up with answers about deliveries from the duo.

But if spinners' hands are a blur, any batting coach worth his rupees should teach his charges to use their footwork to deal decisively with deliveries on length. Get to the pitch of deliveries to foil the spin or go deep in the crease when he drops it short and look to score regular singles.

Any batsmen who let such talented spinners as Shah or Yadav settle into a groove may as well put out the 'help yourself to my wicket' signs.

Those invitations were too prevalent in Dubai as wavering shot selection and tremulous footwork told of mental anguish.

Theories about winning the toss and batting first panned out for NZ in their narrow opening test win in Abu Dhabi, then Pakistan's response in Dubai, but NZ can't rely on a coin toss or the current state and make-up of their batting to stay in the scrap for the decider back in Abu Dhabi.