- By SP. Bhatia
Limited-overs cricket is a little different from the longer version. The
skills, strategies and attitude required to succeed vary a bit from those
demanded by the traditional variety. This is why some great Test players fail
to become great one-day players and teams with fantastic Test records struggle
in ODIs. Cricket is a game played as much in the mind as on the field, and it
involves a 'comfort zone'. This comfort zone' is dependent on the strategies
and beliefs of the team. Some teams, for instance India, believe that they are
better off setting a target for the opposition and defending it. Batting first
is their 'comfort zone'. On the other hand, some teams like the West Indies
team of the 1970s and Sri Lanka of the mid-90s believe in sending the
opposition in and restricting them to a low score.
This word in limited-overs game means nothing but destruction for many batsmen
- destruction of the bowler's psyche and the opposing team as a whole. But
aggression without control and common sense is futile. Not everybody can be a
Sehwag or a Gilchrist. Hence, other finer aspects of batting should be viewed.
1 : Taking quick singles.
2 : Running between wickets - judging a run.
3 : Placing the ball in the right areas (gaps)
4 : Creating angles
I cannot think of a better example than current Australian captain Ricky
Ponting for proficiency in the first two areas. Not only is he quick between
the wickets, but he is also a magnificent judge of a run. The art of Running
between wickets is not only deciding whether you will reach the other end, but
also determining whether your partner will make it. It's all about 'completing'
the run, not merely 'taking' it. Mohammed Azharuddin was a class apart as far
as placement and angle-creation was concerned. He was adept at leaving bowlers
awestruck with his wristwork.
BATTING FIRST - THE STRATEGY:
A team batting first in an ODI should decide its strategy on the basis of its
I. Going hammer-and-tongs in the first 15:
There are only two fielders in the outfield in the first 15 overs. This means that if you have big-hitters in your ranks, then you can really benefit from going for the shots in the initial overs. But it is important to mix caution with aggression. Players who are fearless and possess the ability to hit over the top are invaluable for this gameplan. But a belligerent approach can be a risky one. It might give your team a flying start, say 100-0, but at the same time, if you play recklessly, there could be a collapse and the score could be a disastrous 40-4 after 15 overs. This strategy also depends on the type of players in the middle-order. If the middle-order is strong enough to weather the storm of early wickets and not get bogged down, then the risk is worth taking. The present Australian middle-order is a master at this. The Indian middle-order has also pulled off some rescue acts in the recent past, although not against Australia!
II. Laying a solid base: