A brace of cuts from Rohit, Bumrah’s yorker from hell, and Harshal, a forlorn figure
A brace of cuts from Rohit, Bumrah’s yorker from hell, and Harshal, a forlorn figure. The match between India and Australia was shortened to 8 overs per side due to a damp outfield, and India won by 6 wickets.
A pair of cutbacks from Rohit amidst the pulls
Rohit Sharma’s pulls were, as usual, magnificent. He hammered three sixes and a four with the stroke, each of which could have been the subject of an entire essay.
However, two of his cut shots were more elegant than the pull.
The first time it happened was because Daniel Sams threw it too wide and short, causing it to land outside off-stump.
Sharma did not swing his bat at it, as he usually does not, but instead stretched his arms from the crease and slid the ball through the open slips, where it was fine and quick enough to beat the third man. This one followed a much higher standard.
Sharma moved the ball past the backward point with a delicate swish of his wrists after Cummins had erred on the shorter side with a misplaced slower ball.
The shot appeared to be nothing more than a hesitant steer, but the timing was so good that it purred to the fence.
The stroke, which came off the last ball of the previous over, reduced the number of balls needed to complete the over from 10 to 9, reducing the number of runs needed to 9.
As for Dinesh Karthik, he was the one to do the deed. However, Sharma’s signature regal pulls and exquisite cutters were present throughout the entire chase.
Bumrah’s hellish yorker
First ball back from injury showed some rust for Jasprit Bumrah. We saw the return of the good old loosener, a slow and wide pass that had all but disappeared from the game.
Bumrah was shocked by his own words; he almost never criticises himself.
He started slowly, but as the over went on, he picked up speed and found that his accuracy and tempo were working in his favour again. Indeed, he was blazing along at top speed when he hit the last ball.
The final ball of the over was a gem; it was bowled from well beyond the crease and kept tailing devilishly into Aaron Finch’s foot until coming to rest at the base of his leg-stump.
Finch shuffled away and jammed his bat in an attempt to change the trajectory of the ball. The ball’s increased curvature at hypersonic speed meant that this wasn’t going to happen.
How about a ball fashioned in the fires of hell, or a yorker straight from the pits of hell itself? As he came back to the pavilion, even Finch couldn’t help but praise the ball. It was impossible to stop the blazing, ferocious ball. And Bumrah’s grin returned. The grin of death.
The T-eight batting manual
What strategy should a first batter employ in a Twenty20 match? More like a T-8 contest. The bowler scarcely gives you any time to get your eye in, assess up the pitch, and judge him.
Openers are expected to take the field early in the game, even more so in an eight-over-per-side match.
When Hardik Pandya hit him with a corker that whistled inwards and murmured away, Aaron Finch didn’t back down; instead, he tucked him over the wicketkeeper’s head.
The move wasn’t completely illogical, though. He had doubts that Pandya would bowl with more force after being prompted to change directions.
Finch planned for the scoop and carried it out with precision. Backing away, he sledgehammered another four off Pandya, but for some reason he ignored both the full toss and the short ball.
He was so hurried to make a forceful hit that he misjudged the ball’s arrival. In the next at-bat, Finch continued to swipe, slog, and swish every ball as if it were made of lead.
Axar Patel was not immune to his switcheroo. Batsmen would typically walk out to the crease and attempt to smack the bowler from the very first delivery, setting the tone for the rest of the innings. In what other ways could one play a T-8 game?
Harshal, a forlorn figure
Harshal Patel flopped on the ground after the last-ball run-out. He already looked exhausted and dejected with only two overs under his belt. Anxiety, wrath, despair, and hopelessness flashed over his face.
Before his injury-related sabbatical a few months back, Harshal was India’s go-to wicket-taker and economical bowler in the final overs of matches.
But since his return, he has been all over the place, making length mistakes and forgetting his lines more often than usual. He has given up the most sixes (31) of any bowler this year in only the last two games, totaling 81 runs in six overs (32 in just these two overs).
Perhaps Harshal is still getting his bearings on the international stage after a lengthy absence. Those two trips may have been outliers.
Maybe he’s pushing himself too hard. However, these are concerning developments with only a month and a handful of games till the World Cup. After some time, Rohit Sharma helped him to his feet and comforted him with an arm over his shoulders. He was still bewildered and isolated.