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Twenty20 format doesn’t allow time to see off the short stuff

cricket Updated: May 10, 2010 23:18 IST
Anand Vasu
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“It has become so embarrassing that soon even Bangladesh will try and bounce us out,” a former India player, renowned for being adept at handling short-pitched bowling, quipped.

From accurate assassins like Dirk Nannes to wayward spray guns like Kemar Roach, quick bowlers have gunned down India's best batsmen in the ICC World T20.

On the surface, it appears like India’s batsmen simply cannot play well-directed, fast, short-pitched bowling. But it’s never quite that simple. The problem comes from the fact that the option of leaving the ball alone isn't a realistic one in T20 cricket.

The odd ball can be allowed to go unchallenged, but after two or three dot balls, the pressure to score mounts, especially if you are chasing a decent target.

“It’s (the problem) not something that has appeared all of a sudden,” explained Mahendra Singh Dhoni. “You are equipped to deal with it. In this format, as they bowl consistently short stuff at you but you have to keep scoring.”

In the nets, the Indians have done everything possible to prepare themselves for short-pitched deliveries, including throw downs from short distances to facing wet tennis balls on cement wickets.

But the on-field problem is compounded by the fact that the majority of conditions in India do not allow bowlers to explore this line of attack, leaving the batsmen less-than-prepared in match situations when they encounter tracks with a bit of juice in them.

“It’s not easy but as the players get more experience at the international level, they will groom themselves and be ready for the task,” said Dhoni.

“Quite a few players, I don't think, have played this kind of bowling on this kind of track. We were slightly on the back foot but it's only good for Indian cricket.”

Even Chris Gayle, who deployed the tactic effectively, suggested that the Indians were capable of playing short-pitched bowling, but needed to sort out the mental aspects of this first.

“They know that every team would bowl short at them so they just need to work on their mental game and back themselves,” said Gayle.

“They are capable of handling it but maybe it is just a mental thing, so if they can overcome that I'm sure they'll be even more dangerous.”

At the moment, though, it is avoiding the danger that India are most focussed on.