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Friday, February 04, 2011

World Cup 2011 - Yusuf and India's trick

Harsha Bhogle observed (nothing unusual) the pinch-hitter theory adopted by Mitchell Johnson in the recent ODI between the Ashes rivals - as mentioned, it was being used by many teams years ago but of late, the occurrence has reduced. Harsha gives a good example of how the PowerPlay will be utilized:
The thinking is quite simple: throw in one of your lesser-valued batsmen, and therefore a lesser wicket, to take on the fourth, fifth and sixth bowlers of the opposition. If the attack comes off, you force the better bowlers to return and weaken the bowling in the third Powerplay. If it doesn't come off, you've lost only a bit. It is the good old pinch-hitter theory, but in the middle overs. Would it be possible, I wonder, to see a Harbhajan walk in during the 30th over?
This brought me to another similar thought. Yusuf Pathan, as we all know, has shown the world what impact he can have in the slog overs. But, he has a weakness against the short ball - though he has managed to negate it in his own style of taking it on the body. If the Indian team, after having a good start from Sehwag and Sachin, pick up the batting PowerPlay sometime in the overs 30-40 (when typically the likes of Dhoni and Raina will be at the crease), it will force the opposing captain to bring his faster (and better) bowlers to operate then.

What this means is that their quota will be reduced by the time the junior Pathan strides to the crease. It will give him lesser number of overs to face from the best bowlers in the opposition (thereby not having a problem with the short ball). If you remember the ODI in South Africa where Pathan and later Harbhajan took India past the winning post, this was exactly what happened. Ashish Nehra had the relatively simple task of facing Johan Botha in the final over while Steyn and Morkel had finished their quotas!!

Will the Indian Management use this technique in the World Cup?        
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