Unlike the reverse sweep, batsmen world over love to play the sweep shot, especially against the slow bowlers. But, there is the risk of being caught or falling leg before while attempting one off good-length deliveries.
To master it, one needs good judgment and timing, and the ability to keep the ball on the ground is a must too.
Batsmen from the subcontinent don’t hesitate to play the sweep shot especially on pitches here as they are slow and have low bounce. For New Zealand, there seems to be a problem.
The Black Caps showed perfection in attempting the reverse sweep, which is more difficult. Skipper Kane Williamson and Tom Latham made good use of their feet and scored half-centuries in the first innings.
But instances of getting caught have exposed their weakness. Opener Martin Guptill’s dismissal on the first ball of R Ashwin’s second over on Sunday was an example.
Struggling with form, Guptill, who made 21 in the first innings, tried to sweep Ashwin and the inside edge went off his pads to silly point. Seeing Ashwin getting turn off the pitch from the start, Guptill wanted to sweep the ball to the mid-wicket region, but didn’t get room as the off-spinner tossed it outside off stump.
In the first innings, it was Trent Boult who committed a similar mistake and paid the price. He tried to defend a quick one without coming forward, and the ball popped up to silly point off his boot, and Rohit took a stunner diving to his right off Jadeja.
Before notching up his eighth half-century in Test cricket, Latham too had a close call while playing a sweep on Saturday. The Indians appealed for a catch off Jadeja, after the batsman got a bottom edge and the ball deflected off his foot to KL Rahul at short-leg. Latham got a reprieve as the ball first hit Rahul’s helmet before resting in his hands.
Luke Ronchi, who had a century in the practice game against Mumbai last week, stayed calm and didn’t play the sweep even though Ashwin and Jadeja lured him with full-length deliveries from both ends on Sunday. He knew playing the shot would be risky with the Black Caps struggling to avoid defeat in the series opener.