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Thursday, October 22, 2020

IPL 2020: Mohammed Shami’s short ball success and his big Rohit Sharma test

In the past, Mohammed Shami has been either too reluctant or too eager to bowl short but now he seems to have cracked the bouncer-code.

Written by Sandip G | New Delhi | Updated: October 1, 2020 4:25:56 pm
Mohammed ShamiMohammed Shami of Kings XI Punjab celebrates ater a picking up wicket. (BCCI/IPL)

Just around 16 per cent of Mohammed Shami’s deliveries in IPL-13 have been short balls, yet they have accounted for 42 per cent of his wickets in three games. Despite the one-bouncer-an-over restriction, Shami has got 3 of his 7 scalps with the balls that have climbed on to the batsmen. It’s this aspect of Shami’s bowling that has added a spicy sub-layer to the Mumbai Indians-Kings XI Punjab fixture.

On Thursday, facing the Kings XI pacer will be Rohit Sharma, one of the most destructive executioners of the pull. While Sharma’s range of pull shots is extensive, Shami too has a variety of short balls. In the past, Shami has been either too reluctant or too eager to bowl short but now he seems to have cracked the bouncer-code. Here’s looking at a few dismissals that show the effectiveness of Shami’s lethal bouncer .

Against Delhi (Dhawan): Beaten for pace, space and movement

Not among the most proficient hookers of the ball, Dhawan was awkwardly late into the stroke. It was not the pace alone that deceived him. What foxed him was the inward movement of the rising ball. After landing on the leg-stump, the ball cut back into the left-hander. Dhawan had no time to weave away or duck and ended up gloving to wicket-keeper KL Rahul. Luckily for Dhawan, Rahul couldn’t catch the ball.

The one advantage that Shami has over other bowlers is his use of crease. Since he bowls relatively closer to the stumps, it is very difficult for the batsmen to read the trajectory of his bouncers and it lands them in all sorts of trouble.

Against Delhi (Shaw): Bouncer holds its line

Some of Shami’s short balls hang a bit in the air. Prithvi Shaw got out to one such variation. The opener read the length early and winded up for the short-arm pull and ended up miscuing it. Pitched outside the off-stump, Shaw was expecting the ball to seam into him, but it held its line after pitching. Shami delivered the ball with the index and middle finger more spread out than usual, which explains why the ball bounced lower than Shaw had anticipated.

Against Rajasthan (Samson): Late seam for Samson

It required an exceptional delivery to nail Sanju Samson in rampaging form. Like Shaw, he read the length and shaped up for the ramp shot, but failed to account for the late inward movement. The more Samson arched to make room for the deft brushstroke, the more it tailed into him before catching his glove.

The ability to seam a bouncer is a remarkable gift. As if normal bouncers are not difficult enough, subtle movement can make it incredibly difficult for batsmen to negotiate.

Against Rajasthan (Tewatia): The one that didn’t skid

Rahul Tewatia carved a short ball at full-pelt behind point, but Shami didn’t relent amid one of the most astonishing onslaughts in IPL history. The next ball landed on a similar length, but it neither reared nor rushed onto him. As a consequence, he could not get the required power to clear the midwicket boundary. The damage was already done, but Shami exuded exemplary composure.

Shami’s USPs

Like great batsmen who have more than one stroke for a particular delivery, Shami has more than one variation of the same ball. He can make the bouncer hold the line after pitching. He can also swing it in and away from the batsmen. And from the same length, he can target the chest, throat and head of the batsman. Shami doesn’t use the bouncer as an intimidation tool, but a proper wicket-taking tool.

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