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See the ball, hit the ball, it’s as simple for them

When it comes to power hitting, Sehwag and Gayle have a lot in common. Aakash Chopra reports. Aakash says

cricket Updated: May 16, 2011 02:16 IST
Aakash Chopra

Chris Gayle and Virender Sehwag are both match winners and equally brutal on the bowlers. Yet, one rarely thinks their batting style to be comparable. Let's examine it from a technical vantage point.

Foot movement
Most batsmen have a trigger movement just before the bowler delivers the ball. It could be a slight shuffle across the stumps, a slight forward press or something else. But, unlike most batsmen, both Gayle and Sehwag stay still till as late as possible. The trigger movement helps the batsman get into motion before the ball is delivered, and get into right positions quickly.

On the flip side, the movement gives away batsman’s preferences. For instance, if he goes back and across, chances are he’s looking for a full ball. Similarly, if he plonks his foot forward, he’s expecting short-pitched ball. This, however, applies only to lesser mortals; great players can do without it.

Both remain still and move only when the bowler has delivered the ball, thus giving nothing away. Even then, their movement is bare minimum. Lack of foot movement may have its pitfalls, but their quick hands make up for that shortcoming.

Immaculate eye
Gayle and Sehwag’s batting seems to be based on a rather simple technique — see the ball and hit it. While most good players pick the line and length quickly, what separates these two from the rest is their ability to pick the slower ones and other variations with ease too. Love Ablish from Kings XI is known for his change of pace, but he too couldn’t fox Gayle, for he delayed his downswing a fraction to send the ball
over the ropes. Most batsmen would be too early for the shot while facing a well disguised slower one, but not these two men.

Hitting from crease
The fact that both these guys don't go down the track makes them more dangerous. While Gayle prefers to give fast bowlers the charge, he stays put inside the crease for a spinner. And Sehwag is almost identical when it comes to handling spinners. Both of them trust their downswing to generate enough power and it rarely fails them.

Astute brain
Since their batting looks simple and uncomplicated, most people discount their tactical shrewdness. If the ball moves prodigiously in the beginning, they bide time, always target certain bowlers in the opposition and play strokes that may look ambitious but are still percentage shots.

They are also adept at selling a dummy to the bowler by having a wild heave and missing it intentionally. Sehwag did something similar in a domestic game on a poor surface. He stepped down the track and played a rather ambitious shot, only to miss the ball by a mile. It looked suicidal to everyone but Sehwag had a specific plan in mind. He gave the charge to make the bowler shorten his length. Which he did, and was dispatched to the fence promptly. Gayle does it too. There’s an astute cricket brain working behind a rather calm facade.