Audacious shots and innovative approach have hardly been the story of the ongoing World Twenty20. Unlike the 2015 ODI World Cup, where the innovative hitting techniques of South African AB de Villers and New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum had talking points, this time around the traditional seems to have ruled the roost with India’s Virat Kohli and Joe Root, known more for their orthodox batting style, making the biggest impact.
Scoops and sweeps for six have been missing from the screens in this World T20. The wickets that have provided batsmen a challenge, has ensured most batsmen play predominantly with a straight bat and minimal gimmicks.
Even Chris Gayle, the big-hitting West Indian, has stuck to his power-hitting, but has hardly strayed away from the ‘V’. In his match-winning unbeaten innings of 100 against England, Gayle smashed a total of 11 sixes, seven of which were hit down the ground. The other four came off short deliveries which were pulled away over deep square leg.
Through Kohli, Root and Gayle, the World T20 has seen some scintillating knocks. None though have experimented in the risky shot-making that defined the 2015 World Cup.
In the World Cup held last year in Australia-New Zealand, the focus among batsmen was innovation. De Villiers and McCullum led the way with nearly every corner of the ground an avenue for four or six. Their impact on the tournament was quite pronounced and pointed to a future of cricket that would largely follow a similar style of batting. De Villiers later utilized the same style in the Indian Premier League that followed with rich returns.
The formula though did not quite earn him the same returns in the World T20, where his side bowed out in the league phase with his only 50-plus knock coming against Afghanistan.
The sluggish wickets at most venues, obviously led to a correction from every batsman. De Villiers and Sri Lanka’s Tilakratne Dilshan, whose dilscoop has proved most effective in the past few years, showed glimpses of their innovation, but could bring do it consistently.
By contrast, batsmen whose strength lies in their resourcefulness and adaptability prospered.
Currently, Kohli tops the run charts in the main draw of the World T20 with 184 runs. Second in the list is Joe Root with 168. Both players have never been known for their big-hitting. Instead have generally been the mainstays of their sides in all formats focusing more on stroke-play than the slam-bam version.
In his knock of 82 not out against Australia, considered to be the highlight of the tournament so far, Kohli smashed just two sixes, both in front of the wicket.
Ahead of the tournament, innovation was a keyword, with the tournament nearing its end it is apparent that the traditional style of batting is trumping the new.