Fast & furious but with no sting at all
The general trend across most parts of the country thus far has been flat pitches, making life somewhat easy for the batsmen and extremely difficult for the bowlers. That's why we have seen a slew of tall scores in the last few days, making for an uneven contest between bat and ball.
Given that the Twenty20 game is generally loaded in favour of the batsmen, the flat, unhelpful nature of the pitches therefore increases the pressure on the bowlers even more. There is only one way of approaching the task as a bowler. I can say from experience that it's not easy, but you have no option but to ensure the flatness of the track does not affect your mind.
The nature of the pitches and the attitude of the batsmen combine to make it a double whammy for the bowlers, and, therefore, call for great courage and character from the bowler. I witnessed firsthand Siddharth Trivedi going for 59 runs in his four overs against Kings XI on Thursday night, and he is a reasonably experienced bowler who is playing his fourth full season in the IPL!
As a bowler, it becomes imperative to understand the reality of the game and plan your strategies accordingly. There is no point in thinking of a green-top of a surface that will help the seamers, because that is not going to happen. Also, given that it is only 20 overs-a-side, there is no possibility of reverse swing either in this format.
Consequently, bowlers need a very big heart to get through that particularly demanding phase when batsmen, armed with excellent equipment, come hard at them. Sometimes, I sit back and wonder what is the best line of attack --- or defence -- in such situations? And, the conclusion I have arrived at is that, as a bowler, you are better off bowling as wide outside the off-stump as is legally permissible.
There is a white line outside the off-stump as an indicator for the umpire when it comes to wide deliveries. If you can keep it full and inside that white line, I think it is not a bad option at all. In T20, if you can get the ball through to the wicket-keeper legally, never mind how, it's a job well done!
I can't help but feel for the bowlers in general, and fast bowlers in particular, but then again, that's the very essence of T20. It's all about big hits and soaring sixes, and, therefore, any bowler who has excellent variations will stand out.
That's where Lasith Malinga steals a march over the rest. Not only is he quick, but he also bowls exceptional yorkers time after time, and varies his pace beautifully without any significant change in action. He is inventive, thinks on his feet and is, therefore, the one that other bowlers try to emulate.