Faced with a steep asking rate to win against India during a tri-series match in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka decided to use the powerplay.
Ashish Nehra, who, along with Zaheer Khan, is captain Dhoni’s most trusted bowler at death was brought into attack.
All he needed to do was to find the block-hole and a couple of slower ones to put Sri Lanka in the dock. But alas! Nehra was taken for runs as his yorkers reached the batsmen on the full and the short ones weren’t well-directed.
Why couldn’t Nehra do what he’s done so many times in the past? Well, there was ‘something’ which was beyond his control.
It was the ‘dew’ that set in early in all the matches throughout this series.
The interesting thing about dew is that it makes the leather look okay as it takes longer for water to seep in. However, the thread, which is called the ‘seam’, turns wet. Gripping the ball then becomes difficult. The umpires don’t change the ball and wait till the entire ball gets too wet to play!
In dew-affected games, the toss is crucial in deciding the result. To be able to win the toss and field first is the norm.
But if you happen to lose the toss and are asked to bat, you need to score 30-40 extra runs as cushion against the impact of dew. A good start is needed, and the momentum should be maintained throughout the innings. However, that doesn’t always happen.
The other way is to make early inroads when defending a target. The ball swings more under lights and is easier to control since it is hard and dry.
For the spinners, the challenge is to grip the ball and impart spin. Maintaining a good hold on the ball is relatively easier for a ‘finger spinner’ as compared to a ‘wrist spinner’. But the finger spinner’s job is also cut out as his attack becomes one-dimensional. His deliveries fall straight after pitching.
As a spinner, one can only try to make the ball land on the right lengths, without thinking about too many variations. Variations in pace can however help.
Pacers also face problems. When they’re bowling in the batting powerplay and death overs, the challenge is to hit the desired length, which isn’t possible with a wet ball. For example, a yorker usually becomes a full toss.
Even batting needs adjustments as the wet ball bounces a lot less. So, when the ball is pitched short, the batsman should not play a cross-batted shot but play with straight bat.
Well, the conditions in Bangladesh were certainly not ideal for cricket. For once, the conditions and not the opposition challenged the teams.