Monday, February 14, 2011

The 'I'-factor

Longer the format,classier it gets.Shorter the format,innovative it gets.Here are some of the innovative cricket shots that have evolved over a period of time in limited overs game which all though risky at times but effective nevertheless.Watch out for these in the upcoming world cup as the subcontinental conditions, best suited for batting provides an ideal opportunity to use them.Presenting the 'I" factor or the Innovation factor:

Reverse Sweep:

Innovated by Pakistani batsman Musthaq Mohammad and subsequently followed by his brother Hanif Mohammad,a reverse sweep is a cross-batted sweep shot played in the opposite direction to the more orthodox sweep.This flip side sweep thus sends the ball in the opposite direction mainly towards backward point or third man making it highly effective in the middle overs when the field is conventional.
There are a lot of followers in the present day game who employ this shot often.Prominent among them are Andy Flower and Damien Martyn who is said to have the 'most brutal reverse sweep'.Though the risk factor of a an LBW always looms,the late coach Bob Woolmer is said to have encouraged the players to play this just to unnerve the bowlers at times.An infamous example of how risky this shot is was in 1987 world cup final when England's Mike Gatting attempting a reverse sweep of the very first ball of Allan Border top-edged it and was caught by the keeper.The British lost the momentum and eventually the match by five runs !

                                   Andy Flower in full bloom with a reverse sweep

Helicopter shot:

The first thing a coach tells a fast bowler bowling at depth is-Bowl straight and full,If he misses you hit.This counter attacking shot by MS Dhoni sure gives jitters.With a not-so-high-back lift snap of the arms and with incredible bat speed in full circle sends the ball past the bowler rocketing back to the fence.This shot effectively nullifies the yorker and block hole and prompts the bowler to shorten his length.True to coach's word if the batsmen misses he safely make a walk back to the dressing room.

                                                    MS Dhoni digs out a yorker

Paddle sweep:

Invented by Colin Cowdrey and perhaps immortalized by Sachin Tendulkar,the paddle sweep is one of the risk free shots innovated.Employed in full effect by Sachin Tendulakar against Shane Warne in the 1999 home series at Chennai,the paddle sweep involves a big stride forward,getting to the pitch of the ball and tapping it cross batted wrist fully.Used to collect fours and also to rotate the strike,this shot is common among all the uncommon shots played on a cricket field.
                              Sachin Tendulkar effrortlessly executing a paddle sweep

Nataraja Shot:

The one legged hook copyrighted by Kapil Dev,popularised by Brian Lara,The Nataraja shot is so named rightly after the Indian God of dance ! Mainly used to handle shot pitched deliveries in the power plays to clear the infield,this shot is now employed regularly by Jacques Kallis and Yuvraj Singh.The top edge risk again plays the spoil sport but this shot is most stylish of them all !
                There are only a  few shots more stylish in cricket than this one from Lara

Marillier Shot:

Ever wondered how a bat can be used as a ramp ?? Well Zimbabwean lower order batsman Douglas Marillier of showed us how when he dispatched two good line balls of Glenn McGrath to consecutive fours.This shot involves flick of the ball backwards over batsman's shoulder and the wicket keeper at large !
The interesting part is that the batsman will be of back foot.Though risky in execution this shot has an advantage of aimed at playing at that part of the field where fielders are very rarely placed in limited overs.In 2002,Zaheer Khan was again "marilliered" by Douglas Marillier.Misbah Ul Haq might have been a hero had he he timed this shot of Joginder Sharma in the final over of 2009 T-20 finals !!

                           Douglas Marillier in full flow against Zaheer Khan in 2002

Walking shot:

Johny Walker's tag line reads "Keep Walking".This next shot is a clear inspiration from that.Popularized by Mathew Hayden of Australia,this shot involves a casual 3 pace walk down the track and a heavy spank.Its different from the two step traditional down the track shots because as in the case of the former normally used against spinners but the walking shot now is mainly employed against the fast and medium pacers.
Effective most in the power plays to pierce the gaps and not let the opposition dictate terms.Robin Uthappa and Brendon McCullum are the other players who have added this shot in their artillery.
              Brendon Mccullum dispatches one through one of his many unorthodox shots


When Tilakaratne Dilshan reacted to a ball from James Anderson by crouching as though he was taking an evasive action,there were few surprised faces even in the Srilankan dressing room.The next moment they had beaming smiles when they saw the ball sailing over the boundary rope for a six ! To describe this shot is simply complicated-Get down the knees on one leg-wait till the ball reaches the desired height-crouch-scoop.
Often described as the improvised Marillier scoop,this shot in bluntly called "star fish" by Srilankan players as they explain "star fish has no brain" Brain or no brain,Dilscoop though certainly not the aesthetic of the shots gets valuable runs during power plays and slog overs.

                              Dilshan executes the Dilscoop aptly named after him

Switch hit:

Kevin Pietersen and controversies are more like the hutch network-Wherever you go,it follows.Barely legal and unethical were terms used when KP defied the law books and stealthily changed his stance and mauled Jiten Patel of New Zealand in june 2008.The world had seen the latest addition to the innovative shots-The Switch Hit.Basically the whole stance is reversed even as the bowler delivers the ball and more often than not the ball lands up in the upper tiers of the stadium in the cover region ! The good news came when Marlyborne Cricket Club,the guardians of the cricketing laws confirmed that they will not legislate the switch hit and said the shot was perfectly legal and was in accordance with cricketing laws.
The duel between the smiling assassin Muttiah Muralidharan and swiching assassin Kevin Pietersen became exciting as the latter used this shot effectively sending Murali out of the park.Muralidharan was all but smiling.
India's Robin Uthappa essayed two swich hits in the 2010 IPL when he launched Ajanta Mendis to two sixes of the same over.The switch hit which till that time had only admirers had a follower !
                                  KP displaying the world's first swich hit