A doosra (Urdu: doo-srah) is a particular type of delivery by an off spin bowler in the sport of cricket, invented by Pakistani cricketer Saqlain Mushtaq. The term comes from the word do, which means "two" in Urdu and Hindi, and in this context means "the other one" (it literally means "second" or "the second one")
Apart from Saqlain Mushtaq, other bowlers have made considerable use of the doosra in international cricket, including leading Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, Harbhajan Singh, and Shoaib Malik
The doosra is a relatively new type of ball. Saqlain Mushtaq of Pakistan is credited with inventing the delivery, which was integral to his success and indeed the history of off-spin bowling, as perhaps no off-spinner prior to him had bowled a delivery that had turned from leg to off. The naming of the delivery is attributed to Moin Khan, the former Pakistani wicketkeeper, who would shout to Mushtaq to bowl the "doosra" (the other one) from behind the stumps. Tony Greig, a commentator in one of the matches, eventually managed to link the word to the delivery and confirmed it from Saqlain in a post match interview. Thus the term doosra became a part of cricketing culture. The doosra has now become an important part of an off-spinner's armoury. Muttiah Muralitharan is today the greatest exponent ever of this type of delivery
The bowler delivers the ball with the same finger action as a normal off break, but cocks the wrist so the back of the hand faces towards the batsman. This gives the ball spin in the opposite direction to an off break, causing it to spin from the leg side to the off side to a right-handed batsman.
The doosra is the off-spinner's equivalent of the leg-spinner's googly, which spins in the opposite direction to the leg spinner's stock ball. In principle it is possible for a left-arm orthodox spinner (whose action mirrors that of an off-spinner) to bowl the doosra, which in this case would turn from off to leg. This has not yet been seen in international cricket, although the England left-armer Monty Panesar claims to have bowled it in domestic matches.
Increasingly, it seems that every off-spinner in world cricket is trying to make use of the "doosra" delivery with varying degrees of success. Interestingly, apart from Saqlain Mushtaq himself, all other off-spinners attempting to utilise the delivery have had accusations (for the most part dismissed) of throwing levelled against them. These include; Muttiah Muralitharan, Harbhajan Singh, Shoaib Malik and Johan Botha. Another method, bowled by the Warwickshire bowler Alex Loudon, features the middle finger behind the ball which 'flicks' the ball as it is delivered - spinning the ball from leg to off. The success of this form of the doosra has yet to be determined, as Loudon only made his One Day International debut for England on 24th June 2006 against Sri Lanka. He did not take any wickets but did bowl the doosra in the match. He has so far not received any accusations of throwing. South Australian, Dan Cullen has also been rumoured to be able to bowl the doosra.
Muralitharan's doosra was the subject of an official report by match referee Chris Broad during Australia's tour of Sri Lanka in 2004, for illegal straightening of the arm at the elbow during the bowling action. Subsequent biomechanical tests conducted at the University of Western Australia in Perth showed that Muralitharan was straightening his arm by angles of up to 10 degrees when bowling doosras, well outside the International Cricket Council acceptable guideline of 5 degrees for spin bowlers. Muralitharan was subsequently instructed by Sri Lanka Cricket not to bowl the doosra in international cricket. In November 2004, the International Cricket Council conducted more research into illegal bowling actions and found that many bowlers whose actions were considered legitimate were actually transgressing the rules. A rule change was proposed and accepted at a meeting of ICC chief executives in early 2005, stating that any bowler may straighten their arm up to 15 degrees, and Murali's doosra once again became a legal delivery.
In February 2006, in an attempt to silence the Australian crowds and their 'no ball' chants, Muralitharan took another test at the University of Western Australia, which saw all of his deliveries deemed legal, including the doosra.
The doosra of Indian bowler, Harbhajan Singh, was the subject of an official report by match referee Chris Broad, on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Mark Benson, and TV umpire Mahbubur Rahman after the second Test between India and Bangladesh at Chittagong, Bangladesh in December 2004. It was reported that his arm is straightened by angles of up to 10 degrees, 5 degrees within the ICC tolerance levels.
Pakistani Shoaib Malik was also reported for his doosra before the first Test between Australia and Pakistan in December 2004. Biomechanics tests, similar to those performed on Muralitharan, were conducted, and he did not bowl in subsequent Tests in that series. Unlike many other cricketers accused of throwing when bowling their doosra delivery, Malik is also a capable batsman, and some analysts speculate that he might focus on his batting if prevented from bowling this delivery. Malik was omitted from the Pakistani team for the first Test against Australia in 2004, although this was due to the reputation of the Perth pitch as being unfriendly to spin bowlers rather than as a result of the controversy.
Malik returned to bowling in May 2005 following remedial work. He was reported again, alongside Shabbir Ahmed, after the first Test against England at Multan in November 2005.
In May 2006, Malik opted for elbow surgery to correct his bowling action. He and the Pakistan Cricket Board had previously unsuccessfully argued that a 2003 road accident caused the damage to his elbow which makes his action appear suspect. Malik returned to play in June 2006 but does not bowl doosra anymore.
South African Johan Botha has been reported for his version of the doosra after the 3rd Test match against Australia in 2006. Botha was playing in his maiden test match at the time, taking 2 wickets. His bowling was later ruled illegal, and he was banned, however this ban was lifted in November, 2006