Finishing holds the key | india | Hindustan Times
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Finishing holds the key

Cricket is about scoring runs but, winning is about closing a match and finishing it quickly. This is done mostly by batsmen who are first required to create a platform, and then deliver the killer punch towards the end.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2004 09:10 IST

Cricket is about scoring runs but, winning is about closing a match and finishing it quickly. This is done mostly by batsmen who are first required to create a platform, and then deliver the killer punch towards the end.

Common sense dictates that batsmen who get in, must stay, and then try to go all the way. If Sehwag for instance, gets a start, he is expected to build on that. The coach tells him to look for 50, then hundred; he must keep the momentum going and finish the job all by himself.

Top players are cautioned against missing out, especially when in good form. Getting out early is part of the game, but once the eye is set, the feet move well and the bat swings nicely, it is a crime to give it away. Modern game is nothing but, tight professional cricket. So, batting must be merciless and ruthless -- when on top, provide no escape route to the opposition.

In one-dayers, batsmen gladly perish chasing steep run rates; that's why the one who survives must hold the innings together. But bowlers too have a huge role in finishing games. In the last ten overs, they are under extreme pressure as batsmen step up the tempo. Bowlers bring all their experience into play to clog the flow of runs. At this stage, there is no margin for error, even good balls are punished and anything remotely loose gets the treatment.

When confronted in this fashion, bowlers have to hold their nerves and line -- teams unable to do so, have failed to defend even 15 in one over.

Finishing a game, ultimately boils down to pressure and the team that is stronger ends up winning. Bevan, Razzaq, Flintoff, Symonds and Yuvraj are terrific finishers, they produce runs in difficult situations.

Their runs don't just come from brutal hitting, all these players are astonishingly innovative. They push for singles, play the angles and run hard between the wickets.

Lately, they are using exciting new shots. When quick bowlers drop short, the ball is deliberately nudged over the keeper. Slow balls are swept, often from outside off, while intended yorkers are audaciously paddled towards fine leg.

Like players, teams also realize the importance of finishing a contest. They understand that, whether it is a match or a tournament, the end is more significant than the beginning. A good start is fine but all is lost if you fumble, falter and stumble thereafter.