Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Delhi Capitals's pace pack not all about fast bowling. Nortje impressed in yet another outing, picking figures of 4-0-18-2
Nortje impressed in yet another outing, picking figures of 4-0-18-2
For a few minutes of the game between RCB and DC in Dubai in the IPL 2020, only two people seemed to matter – AB de Villiers and his countryman Anrich Nortje. A great batter at the back-end of his stellar career versus a tearaway fast bowler. De Villiers won the first round of the bout by manufacturing a bit of room to thump one through the off-side. Just that, in what turned out to be a game of cat and mouse, the young South African got the better of his countryman by following the batter and hitting a hard length. All De Villiers could do was mistime a shot to the fielder stationed at midwicket.
This prized scalp symbolised the crux of Nortje's template and that was to hit the pitch hard on a 6-8 metre length; and on occasions, also sow seeds of doubt in the batsman's mind by employing the cross-seam delivery and the off-cutter.
One year from that contest between Nortje and de Villiers, across the E 311 Highway in Abu Dhabi, Nortje used his tried and tested template to derail the Rajasthan Royals.
For starters, Nortje's pace was too hot to handle for the young Yashasvi Jaiswal as he edged an away-going delivery to the ‘keeper. The key 1v1 contest though was between the free-flowing Sanju Samson and Nortje. The fast bowler made his intentions clear early when he slammed a cross-seam bumper into the deck and Samson could only connect with thin air. Even though Samson survived by overturning the initial decision that was answered in the affirmative, Nortje had once again showcased his clarity of thought.
Despite the sweltering heat, Nortje gave an indicator of his admirable fitness as he continued to bowl fast and picked up the wicket of Rahul Tewatia with a back of a length delivery that was zoomed in on the body. By then, DC's path to victory was more or less a foregone conclusion, but there was no let up from Nortje as he went for the toe-crusher, sprinkled with cross-seam against the RR skipper. Even the in-form Samson had no other choice, but to just jam his bat down at the ‘nth' moment. That delivery summed up Nortje's sheer effort for the day.
In the aftermath of the match, in his presser, Nortje validated the point of hitting a hard length, blended with the odd variation in Abu Dhabi. “It is definitely a bit slower than Dubai. We were expecting it as well, obviously playing a day game here, so you know it is not going to be quick. Either it is going to be slow or very slow. So, variations on a good length is a very good option and then also the hard length. It is not easy… the ball sitting sometimes… just change the grip on the ball that might be a variation itself. So, just try and hit the stumps. We were speaking about it earlier that it is a bit difficult to hit straight.”
Can DC go all the way this year?
DC's pace attack isn't just about Nortje. Kagiso Rabada, the South African pace colleague of Nortje, has carried the asterisk of being DC's pace spearhead for a while. His strategy was similar to that of Nortje – to pound it mostly on a hard length. However, with the wicket in Abu Dhabi being on the slower side, he juxtaposed the hard length deliveries with the odd slower ball. In particular, while bowling to Samson, the fast bowler brought out his box of tricks.
In the 15th over, Samson had collected three boundaries off Rabada. So the very next time, Rabada bowled at RR's bedrock, the paceman hoodwinked Samson with a slower short delivery. He followed it by bowling a slower one that was pitched on a full length and wide of the off-stump. Unfortunately for Rabada, Dhawan fluffed a simple chance at deep cover. The focal point to observe about Rabada's variations was no real change in arm-speed.
Incidentally, Eric Simons, CSK's bowling consultant, had stressed upon the point about arm-speed to Cricbuzz. “The most important thing is the arm speed must remain the same. Batsmen pick up from the bowler's action and if the action changes, they see something different a little too early. So, the most important thing is that the arm speed must be quick.”
The third member of DC's hunting pack is Avesh Khan. Unlike Rabada and Nortje, the 24-year-old is yet to play international cricket, but almost every single time he takes the field, he seems to have become a better fast bowling model of himself. In this IPL, alongside hitting the deck, the tall bowler has also found the next missing piece of the fast bowling jigsaw puzzle – the yorker that tails into the batter. If not the yorker, Avesh makes it difficult for the batsman to get underneath by bowling a low full toss at good pace. In the game versus RR, he gave further evidence of his aforementioned skills by restricting Samson in his last two overs.
The wily off-spinner, Ravi Ashwin, and the consistent left-arm spinner, Axar Patel, cap off DC's well-rounded attack. With such a formidable attack at their disposal, it wasn't surprising to see the bowlers hitting the optimum lines and lengths and executing their plans to near-perfection against RR. It also wouldn't be surprising if DC's bowlers end up powering the side to their maiden IPL title.