Over the past two days, talk around Rajasthan Royals has been about Steve Smith’s smart thinking in the Super Over against Kolkata Knight Riders. Needing three off the last ball on Tuesday night, Smith tapped the ball to collect two and level scores, helping RR win on boundary count.
On any given day in IPL, the batsman would have gone for the maximum on the last ball. But the long boundary at Abu Dhabi allowed Smith to use the depth of the field. No wonder, RR hit only one six in their entire innings.
Now that the IPL is back in India, the view is that it will see an increase in scores through big hits. The UAE leg saw even the likes of Royal Challengers Bangalore, packed with power-hitters, struggle.
Rahul Dravid, who is mentoring Rajasthan Royals, believes there will be more sixes. “In the UAE, boundaries were pretty long, at around 80 yards. Here, we’ll be back to 65 yards and that will mean an increase in the number of sixes,” he pointed out.
For the record, Glenn Maxwell and Dwayne Smith have averaged three sixes per innings while there are just two Indians among the top 10 six-hitters.
Besides shorter boundaries, the wickets will be flatter as the dew and seamer-friendly conditions — by the seaside — won’t play that big a role with most Indian venues experiencing a heat wave.
Compared to the same stage last year (see box), average scores are marginally higher this time despite longer boundaries. The main reasons attributed to it are the dew and inability of spinners to stamp their authority.
While the seamers did exceptionally well in the UAE, the successes among spinners were not the big names. RR’s Pravin Tambe and RCB’s Yuzvendra Chahal are the leading spinners, apart from Sunil Narine.
Though former India spinner Maninder Singh attributes it to their ability to flight the ball, he feels the shift to India should help other spinners too provided they are willing to take risks.
“It will depend on the venue and whether the dew plays a role. But because it is so hot and the wickets will be baked and therefore slow, spinners should be more successful here than in the UAE. The ball will be able to grip more on the surface.”
No wonder Delhi Daredevils have called up South Africa leggie Imran Tahir as replacement for injured Aussie paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile. But Maninder says the line of attack will matter more. “Chahal and Tambe were giving more flight while Amit Mishra, despite his experience, was pushing the ball through.”