'Hunted' become 'hunters': Indians use short ball effectively
Delivering one blockbuster performance after another, the usually under-rated Indian pacers have turned a corner and changed a few perceptions in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup by accounting for 43 of the 70 opposition wickets so far.
Sydney: Delivering one blockbuster performance after another, the usually under-rated Indian pacers have turned a corner and changed a few perceptions in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup by accounting for 43 of the 70 opposition wickets so far.
Since India landed in Australia, the common refrain has been how batsmen would be found out on bouncy pitches against the short pitched stuff.
Three months down the line, it's the Indian pacers, who are creating problems for all and sundry with effective execution of short-pitched stuff which opposition batsmen are finding it difficult to handle.
India have taken all 70 rival wickets in seven matches with pacers accounting for 43 out of those and close to 25 wickets have come off short balls.
A few days back, Dhoni was talking about one of his press conferences three years back when he was asked about ICC allowing two bouncers per over.
Recalled Dhoni, "Someone had then asked me, 'What's your take on two bouncers per over rule?' I answered, 'Ek bouncer toh inse theek se daali nahin jaati, do bouncer kya mein ghar leke jaunga (They can't even bowl one proper bouncer, do I take the second one home?)'"
From the sarcasm laden statement to this day, the Indian pacers have done a lot of work to buck the trend. It is but natural that pacers would get more wickets in Australia but what was never seen with an Indian team was how well they have read the pitch is definitely a factor.
Mohammed Shami has been the pick of the bowlers with 17 wickets, Umesh Yadav the fastest with 14 wickets and surprise of the pack Mohit Sharma got 11 wickets. The only match that Bhuvneshwar Kumar played in place of Shami fetched him a wicket.
Among the pacers, Mohit has used the short ball effectively as he can control the pace with variation of bouncers. Mohit can suddenly crank up to 140 plus from a relatively innocuous early 130s with a ball that rears up awkwardly.
"Mohit has the most effective bouncer," former Pakistan pacer and current UAE coach Aaqib Javed had said recently in Perth. Even Dhoni had agreed that Mohit has used his weapon short ball to the best of his abilities.
But Dhoni also feels that "discipline of hitting one area" has been the key for the success that they have enjoyed.
"Well, I think it is one thing that we'll have to do in the Test format even more than the ODIs. But it's the general psyche of the Indian fast bowlers, even when they play in the sub-continent they want to use the new ball well because even in Test matches they don't bowl a lot. The spinners do a lot of bowling. When they get a chance to bowl, they want to bowl everything in that spell of theirs -- inswing, outswing, yorkers," Dhoni observed.
"I feel what they have learnt is the importance of just keep hitting the one, that one area where you want to bowl, and keep hitting it and building up pressure and building in partnership, and that actually creates that pressure where the batsman gets out," the skipper added.
For Dhoni, it was important that bowlers believe in what they were doing and then only can imbibe the discipline required.
"I feel bowlers have really tasted it, and now they actually believe in that. Seeing it is one thing, believing it is something that's more important because once you believe in something like that you keep working on it.
"The subconscious keeps working and the good thing is it becomes part of the system, so I'm hoping that they learn out of this, and when they come back again, irrespective of where we play, a Test series outside the subcontinent, it will really help them," Dhoni said.
The skipper also believes that working up good pace has also been an important criterion in their improvement with all three able to bowl 140 kmph plus.
"They are bowling at good pace, all of them are fit, and if they can keep hitting that one area, I think it will be good because that's something where we have been lacking. We have found it slightly difficult after the 40th over to get wickets when it comes to test matches. I feel this is something that will help," he said.