“In trying to guide the ball through to the keeper, all that Kohli manages is a faint edge. He’s gone for 16, an inning before which he struck 3 hundreds on the trot.”
Scoring over 1000 runs in just 11 innings speaks a lot about his technique.
But is that all?
Doesn’t it tell us something about the 29-year-old’s fortitude? His sublime form has let him achieve ‘unimaginable’ things most players running in the same age haven’t managed.
Similarly, his partner-in-crime Rohit Sharma has started to look a different player altogether after MS Dhoni once promoted him up the order. Clinical batting, great starts, fantastic conversion rate, and what not.
A young kid, who started off as a middle-order batsman with the limelight still on the great Sachin Tendulkar, it’s been a remarkable paradigm shift to play top-notch cricket when the majority may not have given him a great chance.
The duo has now struck 59 ODI hundreds as a whole, an astonishing effort, right?
Taking nothing away from team India’s captain and vice-captain, or for that matter of fact from any batsman who is doing the desired ‘duty’ for his respective nation, a thing that strikes while watching this beautiful game is that it’s, at the end of it, a duel between batsmen and bowlers.
But are we as spectators or commentators giving due respect to the bowlers?
If one were to introspect and genuinely ask this question, probably 9 on 10 would just end up saying, ‘No’.
The game’s being defined increasingly by hitting. It’s taken over like a storm. Spin and seam lie scattered somewhere.
That said, does it make sense to conclude that It is becoming a batsman-skewed game with batsmen wielding bigger bats, against a backdrop that has the ICC allowing smaller boundaries, tinkering with the rules having five fielders inside the 30-yard-circle, amid a mushrooming of T20s?
It appears that everything is falling in the batsman’s favor and that one can firmly say a bowler and a batsman are not on the same page anymore. Are they?
For instance (not going too far), remember India v West Indies Fourth ODI played at Mumbai?
It wasn’t hard to hear a resounding ‘yes’ to crowds’ acceptance of the Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu show.
Not your fault.
Post-match presentation made it look more legit with Rohit Sharma receiving Man-of-the-Match for his commendable effort of 162 and Ambati Rayudu being the Bankable player for his third ODI hundred.
In the same encounter, the new star of the Indian Cricket team, Khaleel Ahmed had bowled exceptionally well with pitching the ball in right areas, hitting the deck hard, swinging the ball both ways which eventually helped him to finish with 3 wickets for 13 runs.
Also, Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav wrapped up the Windies innings with 3 for 42 runs as his individual figure.
It won’t be wrong to say that the effort put in by two ‘K’s went unnoticed because, hell, it did.
So why is this happening time and again?
Have you heard these questions asked in almost every cricket-loving family/friends/office-colleagues, ‘Aaj India Ne Kitna Score Banaya? Aur Kisne Kitte Marre?’ High Scoring Game Hona Chahiye. (How much did India Score? What was their individual score? It should a high scoring encounter).
How many times have we actually heard, ‘Aaj Kitna wicket Liya India Ne? (How many wickets India took today?) Or ‘Aaj Kaash Bowling Wicket Ho (It should be a bowling wicket today).
Here lies the difference; it’s because of ‘we’ as fans that have made this game ‘look’ that way. The bowlers too undergo training spells, gym sessions, dietary regimens, and every other thing, that is required to play this game.
So, why can’t we keep them at the same stature?
Has this got something to do with Cricket intrinsically being a batsman’s game?
Who’s to be blamed if that’s the case.
Going forward, it’s important to give the bowler same welcome as its given to a batsman while he comes into bat, treat a good spell in the same way as we treat a fifty or a hundred, an in-swing delivery should be treated in the same way as a classic conventional cover drive, five-wicket haul deserves the same applause as a hundred does. And most importantly, ‘watch’ that red cherry goes through to the keeper in the same fashion as it goes over the boundary rope.
If this game has to last long, treat two sides of the same coin equally.