A doosra is a particular type of delivery by an off-spin bowler in the sport of cricket. The doosra spins in the opposite direction to an off break (the off-spinner's default delivery), and aims to confuse the batsman into playing a poor shot. Doosra means "(the) second (one)", or "(the) other (one)" in Hindi and Urdu.   The delivery is commonly associated with the retired Pakistani cricketer Saqlain Mushtaq but in fact had been used regularly in the 1950s by West Indian bowler Sonny Ramadhin.
A variety of bowlers have made considerable use of the doosra in international cricket. Users include Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan Indians Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin and South African Johan Botha. Other Pakistanis who use it include Shoaib Malik and Saeed Ajmal. A few bowlers, such as Johan Botha and Shane Shillingford, are not allowed to bowl doosras because, when they do so, their bowling actions are illegal.
The doosra is a relatively new type of delivery. Although some credit Saqlain Mushtaq with its invention in the 1990s, the history of off spinners turning the ball either way goes back as far as the late 1950s, when West Indian Sonny Ramadhin was able to achieve this. However, the first finger offspinner's doosra is credited to 1980s Indian spinner Rajkumar Sharma.  The naming of the delivery is attributed to Moin Khan, the former Pakistani wicketkeeper, who would call on Mushtaq to bowl the "doosra" (the other one) from behind the stumps. Tony Greig (late), a commentator in one of these matches, eventually linked the word to the delivery and confirmed it with Saqlain in a post-match interview. Thus the term became a part of cricketing culture. The doosra is now an important part of the off-spin armoury.
The bowler delivers the ball with the same finger action as a normal off break but cocks the wrist so that the back of the hand faces the batsman. This gives the ball spin in the opposite direction to that for an off break, causing it to spin from the leg side to the off side to a right-handed batsman.
It is possible for a left-armer (whose action mirrors that of an off-spinner) to bowl the doosra, which in this case would turn from off to leg. Sri Lankan left-armer Rangana Herath gained recognition by bowling the delivery, in particular against the Australians during an A tour. England left-armer Monty Panesar has claimed to have bowled the delivery occasionally in domestic matches.
Increasingly, it seems that many other off-spinners are trying to make use of the "doosra" delivery with varying degrees of success. While Saqlain never had legitimacy issues regarding his action, other off-spinners attempting to utilize the delivery have had accusations (for the most part dismissed) of chucking (throwing) levelled against them. These include; Muttiah Muralitharan, Harbhajan Singh, Shoaib Malik, Saeed Ajmal and Johan Botha. The 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 bending 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 prior to delivering doosras, well outside the International Cricket Council acceptable guideline of 5 degrees for spin bowlers. (Straightening the bent arm at the moment of delivery imparts added ball speed due to the action of the triceps muscle: this is one of the ways baseball pitchers generate ball velocity.) 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 great bowlers like Glenn Mcgrath, Jason Gillespie, Shaun Pollock, 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° (which was earlier 9° for spinner and 12° for seamer) and Muralitharan'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 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 all-rounder 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.
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 the doosra any more.
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, though this ban was lifted in November 2006. However, in April 2009, he was called for a re-assessment of his bowling action after the series in Australia. In May 2009, he was allowed to bowl all types of deliveries except the doosra, which was deemed to exceed the 15-degree limit.
A Pakistani cricketer, he is a right-arm off-spin bowler who also uses the doosra to good effect. He has a well disguised doosra and keeps it as a mystery while he bowls. His technique is noted for causing more spin than speed, to his personal preference. In April 2009, Ajmal was reported by umpires for having a suspect bowling action. An independent test the following month, reaffirmed later by a subsequent thorough investigation by journalist George Dobell with extensive discussion with the ICC conducted & released in 2012, both underlined the fact that Ajmal's bowling action falls well within the legal bounds set by the ICC for bowlers. Ajmal also has a mystery delivery called teesra which he used against England's Stuart Broad in test series at UAE in 2011-12.
Ban against the teaching of the doosra in Australia
In July 2009 in Australia, a spin summit held at Cricket Australia's Centre for Excellence decided not to teach the doosra to young spinners. The delegates at the meeting included former Test spinners Shane Warne, Stuart MacGill, Jim Higgs, Gavin Robertson, Terry Jenner, Peter Philpott and Ashley Mallett. According to them, the doosra cannot be bowled legally and unless ICC decides to legalise all forms of chucking, it will not be taught in Australia.
Vincent Barnes in an interview argues that Bruce Elliott, the University of Western Australia professor who is also the ICC biomechanist, had made an interesting discovery in his dealings with finger spinners. "He said he had found that a lot of bowlers from the subcontinent could bowl the doosra legally, but not Caucasian bowlers."
Despite that, Jason Krejza bowled Usman Khawaja with what seemed to be a doosra during a first-class match. While the video in question shows the ball turning in after hitting the footmarks and releasing a puff of dust on impact, Krejza has, in fact, admitted he is developing a doosra. Krejza's doosra is flicked with the finger and comes from the front of the hand. Traditionally off-spinners bowl the delivery out of the back of the hand. While Terry Jenner has been sceptical of Krejza's new addition he reportedly went on to say "if Jason Krejza has miraculously discovered a way to bowl the doosra without flexing his elbow, then he's a genius."
In 2004, Saqlain Mushtaq, the developer of the doosra, claimed to have developed a new variant called the Teesra, which is a backspinner disguised as an off spinner. He was supposed to have used it in ICL matches. Actually teesra is a slightly round-arm delivery,having more pace than either doosra or offspinner and can certainly surprise a batsman.It can also have good effect in limited overs cricket for containing runs. In 2012, Saeed Ajmal has claimed to have learned the art of teesra and is looking to use this delivery in the upcoming matches.
- Moin Khan coined the term
- Rangana Herath. Cricinfo.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-06.
- Times Online: The Big Interview: Monty Panesar
- cricinfo: Harbhajan cleared to bowl
- cricinfo: Shoaib Malik
- cricinfo: Botha's action passed by the ICC
- Botha reported for suspected action
- Ajmal action gets ICC's green signal
- Saeed Ajmal claims clarified by Pakistan Cricket Board
- Life after the doosra | Specials | Cricinfo Magazine | Cricinfo.com
- Krejza bowls Khawaja with a doosra
- Saqlain developing a 'teesra'