Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Washington Sundar, Siraj give a glimpse of their new-ball nous. Rohit Sharma turned to Washington Sundar inside the PowerPlay.
Rohit Sharma turned to Washington Sundar inside the PowerPlay.
It was hard to miss Mohammed Siraj's three-card trick to turn the tables on the West Indian opener Shai Hope in the first ODI in Ahmedabad. It involved some imagination and visualization.
Initially, Siraj bowled a couple of outswingers, with the opener essaying a punch and drive through the cover-region. The bowler was setting up the batter for his variation as he followed up the outswingers with the three-quarter seam ball (gripped at about 45 degree angle), with Hope inside-edging it onto the stumps. In what seemed like a game of rapid chess, the pace bowler had lulled Hope into thinking that he would time and again shape it away from him, only to be befuddled by the variation.
In this current era of ODI cricket, the white Kookaburra doesn't swing for long upfront. So the bowler has to unearth subtle skills that could outfox the batter. Even though Siraj's delivery would most likely tilt into the right-hander, it adds in a bit of randomness or unpredictability to his repertoire. Siraj's ebullient spell at the start of the innings also came in the backdrop of India's woes with the new ball in recent times in the 50-over format. Since the start of 2020, the Indian bowlers have snared only 12 wickets in 19 innings at an average of 92.25 and a strike rate of 95 in the PowerPlay in ODIs. Unflattering figures that would lead to a bit of head-scratching in the Indian camp
Siraj's delivery to Hope though wasn't just the only highlight of India's bowling effort as the spin duet of Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal combined to share seven wickets between them. Chahal was aptly adjudged the man of the match for snaring a four-for. On the other hand, the significance of Sundar's performance was that he bowled inside the first PowerPlay and kept a tight leash on the scoring rate. He soon reaped the benefits of his discipline when he picked up the scalps of Darren Bravo and Brandon King just after the PowerPlay.
Siraj bowled an ebullient spell at the start of the first ODI
Incidentally, enough captains in the IPL and Vijay Hazare trophy have trusted Sundar in the PowerPlay overs. “Yes, that is something (bowling in the PowerPlay) I have been doing in the last few years. I enjoy bowling in the PowerPlay… with the new ball. Even the fact that I played Vijay Hazare, it helped me to bowl in different situations of the game. Even over there I bowled a lot with the new ball. All those experiences have definitely helped,” the all-rounder said in the post-match presser.
In the past, Sundar had also observed that he practices PowerPlay bowling in the nets. “I will tell the batsman what the field is going to be like. I will also think about where I am going to bowl. Maybe five to ten minutes, I will give myself the time to bowl in the back end, but most of the time I prepare myself to bowl in the PowerPlay,” he said in the presser after an IPL game in 2020.
Sundar's bowling is basically a repetition game, sprinkled by subtle changes of pace and use of the crease. As he is also relatively tall for a spinner and bowls with a high release, he extracts more bounce. One more aspect of Sundar's game is that he tends to watch the feet or trigger movements of the batter all the way through.
In the opening ODI too he showed glimpses of his wicket-taking aptitude by sticking to his plans and preying on the batters. To encapsulate the point, in the 10th over of the innings, Sundar bowled mostly with a flatter trajectory to Bravo. The one time he gave it some air, Bravo essayed the cover-drive. It seemed clear that Sundar was teasing Bravo to play the flick or nudge one around the corner in order to trap him in front with a straighter one. The left-hander even attempted a couple of nudges/flicks.
Bravo soon fell in Sundar's very next over. With a small trigger, Bravo moved towards outside off. The southpaw perhaps was hoping to counter the turn if any. At the other end, Sundar seemed to be watching the batter's feet like a hawk as he bowled a relatively straighter line and around the good length area. As Bravo had shuffled towards outside off, he couldn't meet the ball and ended up playing around the front pad to be adjudged LBW.
With Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami set to return to the Indian set-up at some point, Sundar may get limited opportunities to bowl in the PowerPlay. However, considering the fact that the next World Cup will be played in India in 2023, Sundar can add a different dimension to the attack in the PowerPlay in certain conditions. For the moment, the home team's coaching staff would be pleased that at the end of the match they were left with more answers than question marks in relation to bowling with the new ball.