Royal Challengers Bangalore player Chris Gayle celebrates his century during the T20 match against Pune Warriors at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. (PTI)
We are nearly at the beginning of the second part of the league phase of the T20 League and it is becoming increasingly noticeable that the batsmen are finding their groove and coming into their own.
I am not referring, of course, to the brilliance of Chris Gayle the other night when, in 66 deliveries, he alone made more than what most teams have managed in 20 overs of batting. That innings was a strict freak, a definite one-off, but what I mean is that gradually, teams are beginning to post totals in the region of 160 and more, something that was conspicuously absent in the early stages.
Taking time to adapt
There are a few reasons for this. At the beginning, batsmen from various teams were coming in after having played in different formats of the game, and therefore, took a little bit of time to adapt to the T20 format. Also, the bowlers were fresh and there was help for the faster bowlers in particular. To their credit, the quicker bowlers were also going about looking for wickets instead of focusing merely on containment.
But after 6-7 games, the element of surprise the bowlers brought with them has disappeared to a large extent, the bowling has become more predictable from a batsman's point of view and from here on, I expect the batsmen to call the shots unless the pitches begin to wear to such an extent that the ball starts to turn appreciably.
It's, needless to say, highly improbable for any batsman to consistently deliver the goods over an extended period of 16 games in the league stage. It's a very strange but natural phenomenon for batsmen to slump into a lean trot from time to time. That's been the pattern for the last five years and I don't expect it to be any different this time around.
In the early stages, everything was loaded in favour of the bowlers to step up. The time the batsmen took to come to grips with the 20-over game and their own willingness to experiment worked in favour of the bowlers. But with the batsmen finding their mojo with every outing, the balance of power has shifted almost imperceptibly. As the tournament moves on, the travel and the burden of defeats can weigh heavily on a bowler's mind. As a result, a certain mental weariness that can creep into one's game. I feel the time for the bat to dominate is upon us, and while bowlers like Sunil Narine will continue to court success, that will be more the exception than the norm.
The writer is former India bowler