In Part One of this blog I (Martin) mentioned the skills that the Twenty20 form of the game of cricket had developed. Many of these skills involve new and daring shots that, although they may not have been necessarily invented in the subcontinent, have arguably been put into practice most vividly in the IPL. In this blog, I’ll run down four of them.
Named after Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lankan batsman and occasional bowler, the “Dilscoop,” involves the batsman quite literally hitting the ball directly over his head, a potentially very dangerous shot that has to be seen to be believed (see below). It’s the sort of shot that leaves the opposition team standing with their collective hands on hips, saying to themselves “You can’t do that!” Well, yes, you can.
The Helicopter Shot
As far as I know, this shot is synonymous with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian captain and wicketkeeper. The batsmen of the subcontinent have for decades been known for the “wristiness” of their shots. That means that at the moment the ball hits the bat, the batsman rolls or turns his wrists, which directs the ball off at an angle. This allows the batsman to manipulate the ball around the field using flicks and glides rather than pure strength. Or rather did, since the helicopter shot requires the rolling of the wrists to be at the end of a high backlift of the bat and a whirling of the arms (thus the “helicopter”) that allow an enormous amount of power to be generated from a standing position. It looks hard and it is. The below isn’t in the IPL, but it is the great Dhoni:
The Upper Cut for Six
If there’s one thing that one-day cricket and the subcontinental style of playing it has done, it’s made it OK to hit the ball in the air. As in baseball, a ball in the air (unless it goes for a home run or a six) is dangerous, since it can be caught by a fielder on the full or fly and the batter or batsman goes back to the hutch. These days, however, cricketers know that a strategically placed lob over the infield can get you a lot of runs. I don’t know whether he invented the shot that uses the pace of the ball to lift it behind the batsman, but Sachin Tendulkar is the master of the upper cut for six:
The Switch Hit
The switch hit has been around for quite a while and so is now being used even in Test cricket. As in baseball, the switch hit involves being able to hit right- as well as left-handed. Unlike in baseball, the batsman does this while the bowler is in his delivery stride. It’s audacious, and not a little insulting to the bowler—and no one is more audacious or as insolent as Kevin Pietersen. Here he is, lifting the cricketing equivalent of the middle finger to the New Zealanders in a one-day international: