Virat Kohli spoke with such eloquence and insight that you could almost picture him standing in the nets and laying bare the intricacies of the pull shot — that much-maligned stroke the Indians will allegedly leave in the dressing room before walking out to bat in the second One-day International in Hamilton on Wednesday. Four of India’s top six batsmen fell looking to swat aside the short ball in the series opener in Napier.
But Kohli, who wasn’t among them, didn’t duck any of the questions that were related to India’s perceived collective ‘short ball’ shortcoming. Actually, Kohli’s reply was a mini masterclass.
“Even to leave the short ball, I think it is very important to want to hit the ball,” said Kohli, who scored an irresistible century on Sunday, when asked why the Indian batsmen were looking to play the bouncers. “If you are looking to leave the ball, your weight is already on the back foot and then you are in no position to leave or hit the ball. Whereas, if you are looking to hit the ball, you take your body forward and then you can be balanced enough to duck under it. I think that is one key aspect that a lot of people are mistaken about. If you are looking to leave the ball all the time, then more often than not you will get hit on the glove or the helmet,” he said.
It was Kohli’s way of saying that the Indian dressing room knew the intricacies of handling deliveries that take off after pitching. To be fair to the tourists, the talk about India’s pull-shot “shortcoming” in particular and their alleged batting woes in general, has come about too early into the series. Of the four players that got out to the short ball, two, Rohit Sharma and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, actually play the pull shot very well.
Rohit’s dismissal in Napier was not as much because of any supposed weakness against the short ball as it due to the slump and resultant crisis of confidence that he is undergoing. Dhoni, on the other hand, scored a sizable chunk of 40 runs by pulling the ball.
Spare Sharma, Dhawan
Sharma’s opening partner Shikhar Dhawan, indeed, has shown some susceptibility against the rising deliveries since South Africa, but he wasn’t a complete failure on Sunday, scoring 32 runs and sharing a 58-run second-wicket stand with Kohli.
In any case, Rohit and Dhawan have copped a fair bit of flak in December even though the duo have been among the highest runs-getters in international cricket in 2013. While Rohit’s sequence of 3, 19, 18, 4 and 12 in the last five innings — an average of 11.2 at a strike rate of 44 — is indeed alarming, it should be reassuring continued…