The second T20 World Cup is going to start soon, which, to my mind, means that we should have identified a way of doing things in this format. People who play the game know that all formats follow an almost set pattern with a few variables here and there. So, what would be the most effective way of approaching this format? Initially it was perceived as a twenty-over slog and most teams made the mistake of going too hard right from the beginning .
Yes, there are field restrictions in the first six overs and one must try to take full advantage of it but teams who lost more than two wickets in the first six overs more often than not ended up on the losing side. So the question is, should teams go after the bowling right from the start or is a cautious approach while the ball is new the better option?
Most teams have agreed that while one must capitalise the field restrictions but shouldn’t lose too many wickets. And that also varies with the conditions. For example in the sub-continent the new ball doesn’t move around in the air or off the surface and hence the risk of getting out is relatively lesser than in South Africa, England or Australia. Also, once the ball gets old it starts gripping the surface in sub-continental conditions and makes it tougher for the batsmen to clear the fence consistently. So the order of the day would be to maximise the first six overs. In other countries (except the worn out South African pitches and slow tracks in the West Indies) batting becomes easier as the game goes on. So a more cautious start would be the more viable option.
Then there’s the small matter of playing to your strengths. Some teams are top heavy and some rely on hard-hitting batsmen to finish the innings strongly. The teams with the explosive batsmen at the top would rely on capitalising on the field restrictions while others would want to keep wickets in hand for the final assault. The middle overs are utilised to either carry on the momentum or to build a platform for one final assault in the final four overs because the matches are neither won nor lost in these middle overs. Its unreal the numbers of runs teams have managed to score in the last 3-4 overs if they had wickets in hand.
The strategy adopted when chasing a target will differ from the approach taken while setting one. One can afford to leave it till late in the innings to accelerate if you’re setting a target but while chasing one must keep a tab on the asking rate or else one economical over can change the equation in the end.
To be honest, I don’t think that there’s been a set pattern in this format yet as most teams and players are still finding something new every now and then in terms of situations and its demands.
The author will discuss specific strategies for batting and bolwing over the next two days.