IPL 2020: Batsmen exceptional, bowlers still a bit rusty says Shane Bond
Jasprit Bumrah’s duel with AB De Villiers in Mumbai Indians’ last match against Royal Challengers Bangalore perfectly captures how quickly the momentum shifts in T20.
Bumrah, an exponent of death-over bowling, bowls eight balls at De Villiers in his last two overs. He doesn’t do much wrong as he tries to keep out of the South African’s range by bowling outside off-stump, fuller, and sometimes short and slow to mix it up. Slight errors still results in his conceding 27 runs.
Both squared off again in the Super Over. This time Bumrah is on the money. A couple of perfect yorkers and good bouncers apiece has De Villiers hopping. The second of those bouncers was top-edged towards fine leg boundary but the South African is never in control.
The target was small or else Bumrah may have pulled off a coup in the Super Over again. Like in 2017 against Gujarat Lions, when he restricted the hard-hitting Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum defending 11 runs.
In a format where the margin of error is thin, bowlers constantly try different ways to counter the onslaught. What is the right line to bowl? Always hit the block-hole or mix it up with short and slower stuff? These are some of the questions debated in this IPL.
Ian Bishop, doing commentary during Sunrisers Hyderbad’s win over Delhi Capitals on Tuesday, pointed out how bowlers haven’t landed many yorkers in this edition so far. He felt that’s the best way to keep batsmen in check. He was pleased to finally see Sunrisers pacers bowl them, especially T Natarajan.
Michael Slater felt during Rajasthan Royals’ record IPL run chase against Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah that “bowlers are still rusty after a long lay-off and are yet to hit their peak”.
Mumbai Indians bowling coach Shane Bond feels yorkers are one of many delivery a fast bowler has in his armoury.
“One could argue that the length ball and slower bouncer are harder to hit for six rather than take the pitch out of play if you miss a yorker and see it hit back over your head,” says the former New Zealand fast bowler, who had one of the finest yorkers in the game.
Bond wants the MI bowlers to be unpredictable, try different things. “From (the bowlers’) point of view we have a range of different balls. We look at the batsman, analyse where they score, their preferred zones and try to make it as hard as we can… so the batsman isn’t sure what length or line the bowler bowls. Also, have a field that gives bowlers option to bowl two-three different balls.”
How does MI prepare its bowlers? “We have a simple theory. We bowl at seven metres (length) as a fast bowling group and five metres as spin bowling group. We practice those lengths consistently. Regardless of the pitch conditions, generally if you are around those areas you are in the right slot. Then it comes down to you having to change a bit of pace, be wider or straighter depending on the pitch, the conditions, the boundaries and (how) we adjust as quickly as we can.”
Data from previous matches in the UAE show scores are generally beetween 140 to 160. This IPL so far the scores have been on the higher side and Bond feels it’s down to exceptional batting. “In this tournament, we are seeing huge scores on both grounds (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), on wickets that you won’t say are entirely batsmen-friendly. Wickets have been a bit slow and (have offered)some seam movement.”