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Sport Columnist – Anil Kumble;Use of batting power plays need a serious re-think

Batting Power Plays are very much in the news, aren’t they? Well, they should be as often they are, or at least should be, game changers.

With most sides invariably getting through their bowling Power Plays immediately after the mandatory first 10 overs, it is the batting Power Play that needs some thinking about and tinkering with.

In the first ODI at Vadodara both captains opted for the Power Play at the right time, but then planning is one thing and execution quite another.

When a team loses a wicket at the start of the Power Play, which in most cases is a settled batsman, they would do well to send in a pinch-hitter, someone who can make a quick 15 or 20 and whose loss early or otherwise will not have a significant impact.

There is no need to look at scoring as many as 50-60 runs in that period, rather the focus should simply be on shifting the momentum.

The basic idea should be to make the opposition captain think, make him re-evaluate his strategy and force him to even change it.

For all this to happen, the batting Power Play has to be taken early enough too. Should you delay it, the opposition will be better prepared with the right bowlers waiting in the wings. Never make it predictable, that is the key.

Power Plays aside, it was a very good game of cricket, one that went to show if you don’t give up till the last ball is bowled, anything is possible. And Harbhajan is that sort of a character, he will always fight till the end.

His partner till the end, Praveen, is one who revels in situations where there is nothing to lose. Praveen, though, is required more for his bowling.

With Nagpur hosting its first day-nighter, should India bowl second, Praveen’s ability to move the ball will come in handy.

Surprising

That said, I was certainly surprised when Ricky Ponting chose to bat first even with a 9 a.m. start. Perhaps they backed themselves to bat out the initial phase rather than bat second when the pitch can get slower.

In a day-night game it is the other way around, with teams mostly preferring to bat first and get away from having to chase under lights. But at this time of the year, with the winter setting in, the dew factor will have to be taken into account. I know there will be some sort of a spray used but nature is capable of dealing with the best sprays.

Here M.S. Dhoni should be in a good position to take the right call. He was involved in the Challenger Series that was played at the same venue just a short while back and is in the best position to take that experience of the conditions forward.

Dhoni will also be forced to consider Munaf Patel as he was the stand-out bowler during the Challengers, leaving him with a difficult decision to make.

He will be happy though with the one change that simply has to be made, what with Yuvraj Singh being, in all likelihood, back in the fray. Young Virat Kohli, who has to learn to convert his 30s and 40s into match-winning knocks, will have to make way and he can use the time well by thinking about his approach to the spinners. Twice in a row now, starting with against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy, he has chosen to try and hit the spinner out of the ground a little too early and paid the price. He will have to learn to be more patient.

‘Patients’ there seem to be aplenty in the Australian squad with there being no hope for James Hopes at least. The possible absence of Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson, the ICC Cricketer of the Year, is something the Indians should capitalise on in their bid to square the series.

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October 28, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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