Sunday, May 04, 2008

A lesson on T20 bowling from Polly's handbook

Mumbai set a none too imposing 162 for Sehwag's Daredevils in a do or die match for the former. Great fielding and good bowling in the face of a lone Sehwag onslaught kept them in the hunt for much of the Delhi chase. Even after Sehwag's departure Shoaib Malik and Dinesh Karthik kept the Daredevils in the hunt. They were beginning to accelerate. Daredevils needed 55 from the last 6 overs and looked on course.

Shaun Pollock the captain had a choice to make. He had scalped the in-form left hander Dhawan in his initial 3 over spell. Now he decided to bring himself on for his last over. The very first ball broke the Daredevil partnership as Shoaib Malik skied a catch to mid-off. At that point of time the TV analysts showed Polly's 'pitch maps' against Delhi's left-handed batsmen, and then the right handed.

As expected both pitch maps were a cluster of numerous dots in that familar back-of-length area [propose to rechristen it as the 'Pollock-McGrath' zone]. Just one pitched up delivery each for the left and right handers. The interesting part: that only full ball he had bowled to the left handers fetched him Dhawan's wicket and the one to the right handers got Malik.

That map indicated the full ones were not slip ups but deliberate invitations to batsmen itching to break loose. Only they were bowled slightly slower in pace, with fielders perfectly placed to take an uppish drive (Dhawan) during the powerplay overs or a skied mishit (Malik) during the slog. For the batsmen, they are overwhelmed by temptation when they see a 'loose ball' from the master of parsimony.

The batsmen, meanwhile had changed over and a set Dinesh Karthik was taking the strike. I was wondering about that pitch map when Pollock came on to bowl and sure enough bowled that full slightly-slower ball to Karthik. Sure enough Karthik failed to resist the bait and spooned it up in a bid to hit the ball out of the park but luckily got away with 2 runs as he managed to place it wide of the fielder.

That Malik wicket decisively tilted the game towards Mumbai.

I will go a little further and state that the bowlers are gradually finding their feet in Twenty twenty cricket. Succcessful defence of medium sized totals in each of the last three games is proof of that. Hope some other bowlers can learn and perfect (it is a high risk bait) Polly's trick to further improve the balance between bat and ball.

Update: The bowlers have found their feet and are on the kill, in fact. Tanvir destroys Chennai Super Kings with a 6-for!

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