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Length is the key for bowlers

india Updated: Jun 05, 2009 23:36 IST
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When the entire world believes that T20 is a batsman’s game, how can we expect the bowlers to doubt the popular view. In fact, bowlers have more than one reason to feel discriminated against in this format. Those who go for five to six runs an over in an ODI are regularly conceding much more.

The reason that stops the batsmen from going after the bowling in an ODI is, primarily, the fear of getting out. Only the top six batsmen are supposed to bat the full quota of 50 overs. However, in a T20 game, there’s no such responsibility and the batsmen have a licence to hit from the beginning.

So the bowlers have gone back to the drawing board and chalked out a few plans to counter the assault. They’ve realised that only three lengths work in this format — yorkers, good length (a ¾ length) and short pitched (a bouncer). Anything slightly fuller or shorter disappears into the stands very quickly.

Bowlers have also tried to master the art of slower deliveries. There are different kinds of slow balls — the back-of-the-hand slower delivery, the split-finger one, the traditional off-break/cutter though some have even tried proper leg-break. But more than the variety, it’s the ability to disguise and execute it under pressure that brings success.

Stats suggest that the first and the last balls of an over are the most expensive in this format. Hence, all the bowlers know the importance of starting and finishing an over well. You can bowl only 24 legal deliveries in T20 and hence the first and the last balls make up 1/3rd (8 balls from 4 overs) of your quota for the match.

Moreover, starting an over well puts pressure on the batsman while finishing it ably helps the bowler at the other end start his bowling with less pressure. In this format, you can’t afford to bowl even a couple of warm-up balls to a fellow player (because of time constraint), and also can’t start your spell with a ‘loosener’.

In other formats, only wicket-taking and maiden balls are considered good but in T20, even a delivery costing you a single is considered decent in most situations.

It is interesting to see bowlers making peace with the fact that they’re going to be hit. So instead of trying to stop the batsmen from hitting, they are making them hit where the bowlers want i.e. to the fielders they have placed. Just like the batsmen, bowlers also master their ‘go to’ deliveries that can bail them out from tight situations. It could be a yorker, a bouncer or a slower one. Above all, they must execute them well under pressure.

Sounds tough?? Well, didn’t they tell you that it’s a batsman’s game!!!