Contrary to claims, the introduction of T20s and the IPL, if anything, has restored balance in the game. It has given bowlers an edge over the batsmen. The latest format has shifted the pressure from the bowlers onto the batsmen. No longer is six runs an over acceptable. No more can the batsman just rotate the strike and frustrate the bowlers – That only frustrates the fans, if anyone – into committing a mistake. Gone are the days when a four had the bowler hanging his head in shame. A wicket, nay, a couple of dot balls in an over, can make you a hero; can win you the game.
The bowlers know that all too well. Drawing the batsman onto the front foot and waiting for an edge off the bat is no longer necessary. A bowler struggling to break through a batsman’s defence was a sight too common before the advent of T20. Such has been the impact that now, a batsman leaving a ‘good’ ball in T20s is a rarity. The batsman, by default, has to attack every ball (or face the fans’ ire and the coach’s wrath. Not really a choice, is it?). In this scenario, all a bowler needs to do is to stick to the basics; bowl a good line and length, and there are wickets for the taking.
Lasith Malinga’s performance throughout the last edition of the IPL illustrates the point. 28 Wickets in 16 matches only goes to prove that bowlers are rewarded well for their efforts in the “batsmen- friendly” format of the game. To add to it, IPL 2012, in whatever we have seen of it, already provides more than a few examples. Consider Dale Steyn’s performance against Mumbai for one. Figures of 4-1-12-3 are good in any format, not just Twenty20s. His bowling had almost singlehandedly won the game for DC, if it were not for good bowling from MI which had restricted the Chargers. Many games this season were decided by one set of bowlers performing well, and if past trends are anything to go by, the significance of the bowlers’ contribution is set to increase as the season progresses.
The IPL has balanced the equation in favour of the bowlers, and the “batsman’s game” finally seems to have made peace with the bowler.
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