It is the fast bowler’s equivalent of playing possum, bowling a few deliveries that are ‘off-pace’ or with lesser intensity than normal before dishing out the ‘effort’ ball, the one that is quicker and moves either in the air or off the surface, and often has the batsman’s number. It’s a tactic that Zaheer Khan was notoriously noteworthy for on the slow wickets of the subcontinent and what Stuart Broad used to remarkable effect in his eight-over burst on the fourth afternoon at Vizag. We see how Broad sucker-punched and knocked out the Indian middle-order.
Cutting Rahane in half
Rahane had comfortably defended, driven, steered and pushed four benign length deliveries before the fifth pitched slightly shorter with Broad rolling his index-finger over the ball to get his leg-cutter to not only rip away from outside off but also bounce high enough to catch Rahane’s glove en route to Alastair Cook at slip.
Nicking out Ashwin
Broad gave Ashwin the Zaheer treatment again following up two innocuous length deliveries that barely troubled the all-rounder before getting one to jag back sharply and catching him in front. An inside-edge saved Ashwin here but very next ball came a leg-cutter, the fullest of the lot, that caught his outside-edge.
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Virat on the hop
Though Broad didn’t get Kohli, he troubled the well-set Indian captain as much as any of the other batsmen. Thrice he had him in distress and came very close to dismissing him. In the very first over of his spell, Broad started off with three harmless full deliveries outside Kohli’s off-stump before giving him a leg-cutter that pitched on a length and cut away, committing the right-hander to a poke. Two balls later he brought out a pacy yorker that hurried Kohli. The next eight deliveries to Kohli were again on a full length with no spite, before a sharp leg-cutter was edged through the vacant slip region. The next ball was a Zaheer-special, a sharp in-swinger that snaked into Kohli’s pads with DRS showing the ball striking just inches off the danger zone.
Jayant all at sea
His first delivery was a quick in-ducker that caught the outside-edge and escaped for four. Then two length deliveries before a sharp off-cutter this time almost had Jayant lbw and gave Broad his fifth victim.