A friend and die-hard cricket fan posted on Facebook after Ishant Sharma’s crucial over in which he gave away 30 runs to bring Australia back into Saturday’s ODI at Mohali: ‘Cricket is a batter’s game, more so in the shorter version which is harsher on a bowler than Test cricket.”
With 44 needed off 18 balls, the game seemed beyond the Aussies’ grasp. Ishant, an experienced bowler bowls the 48th over and starts with one full and wide.
Next one, short; third one, a length ball; fourth... short again; fifth... another short ball and the last one… once again short. It seemed the pressure choked him and his long mane was not helping him to relax and think what needed to be done in crucial match situations.
Captain MS Dhoni was absolutely right when he said: “I think the last few overs were disappointing. It is an area of concern and it’s getting worse. Individuals will have to step up. You have to back your strength. You don’t need to spoon-feed bowlers at the international level.”
Thinking is part of a bowler’s action and it comes naturally to a street fighter. Bowling in the slog overs means you need to have a mindset of a street fighter, who comes up with a deceptive knockout blow when all seems lost. At present, Ishant’s body language is too defensive and he seems to be struggling to find his rhythm that matches his current fitness levels.
The slog overs need tactics according to who is at the other end. Implementing the plan is possible when bowlers are not struggling for rhythm or worrying about where he intends to bowl. When a bowler is unbalanced, his head wobbles when his back and front foot lands. He will find it difficult to land the delivery where he intends to.
When Ishant’s rhythm has been in sync with his fitness levels, he has bowled brilliantly. It is the responsibility of individual players to listen to the body and strike a balance between working on fitness and bowling in the nets. A smart cricketer will learn quickly from his experience or depend on the support staff to guide him to prepare for bigger challenges.
The responsibility lies with all those who get their paychecks deposited in their account. Selectors have shown faith by retaining the same side for the remaining four matches. Now, the onus is on the players who have been backed. It’s time to perform and justify your places.