Improvisation has been the buzzword ever since T20 gained popularity in the sub-continent. Bowlers were pushed to the brink by relentless onslaught from batsmen, thereby making the slower ball, slower bouncer, low full toss and wide of the off-stump over-pitched deliveries effective means of preventing the ball from flying to the ropes.
The reverse sweep and paddled sweep were already tried and tested means of dealing with spinners who would bowl to the body, but very soon even the pacemen were not spared.
The upper-cut which Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar used effectively to hit short-pitched balls over third-man, and the switch hit by Kevin Pietersen have stood the test against pacers. Many others across the world have also picked up the shots.
The use of ‘Dilscoop’ by T Dilshan is yet to hit the popularity charts. AB de Villiers has displayed an unparalleled skill for taking the attack to the bowler. Constantly changing position as the bowler is about to deliver, he uses a half-sweep, half-scoop, right-handed and reverse, to find fine-leg and third-man boundaries.
So what do bowlers do?
Vijay Dahiya, the Kolkata Knight Riders’ assistant coach, who is also a former India wicketkeeper, feels a lot depends on the bowler’s frame of mind.
“It calls for huge amounts of mental strength on the part of the bowler. Sometimes, the shots work and sometimes they don’t. But the bowler needs to have that belief and skill to make it count when the shot doesn’t work.”