Danger and nightmare have found a new synonym in the form of fierce Australian left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc. The lanky bowler, with the ability to generate pace, bounce and swing, has pushed the opposition into doldrums and has made them look helpless, not just once or twice.
His lightning fast yorkers do pose a tough challenge for the batsmen to tackle. The winner of the ‘Man of the Tournament’ award at the 2015 World Cup is one of the key reasons why the Royal Challengers Bangalore are still in the hunt for a place in the final four in the current edition of the IPL. If one wonders if there are batsmen who may not dance to the tunes of Starc, then the following list might come in handy:
AB de Villiers
Is there any shot that Mr. 360 can’t play? AB de Villiers has every shot in the book. His innovative shots are answers to almost all kinds of deliveries and he is probably one among the few who can play Starc tactically. His unorthodox scoops and flicks of full-length deliveries stand as a testimony to the fact.
Such shots will help him get under the ball and whack it for a biggy or at least he can keep the scoreboard ticking. He has already scripted his dominance over Starc during the 2012 Perth Test against the Aussies where he smashed Starc for 7 boundaries.
A good player of the hook shot, de Villiers can always rely on that shot in reply to Starc’s bouncers.
This uprising talent from Australia is another unorthodox and innovative player. Steven Smith vs Starc can only be seen in the IPL, as they play for the same team in Australian domestic cricket and in the Big Bash as well.
His technique came to light especially in the IPL when he was seen playing unconventional scoops and reverse hits of full length deliveries. He is a player who loves to move around the crease, thus making it possible for him to convert a yorker into a full toss or a half volley.
Being a player whose power rests in his bottom hand, Smith is very good at timing the ball to perfection which adds to the possibilities of him pulling it off against his country mate.
Stand within the crease and flick or guide the ball towards mid-wicket – that is how Virat Kohli mostly dispatches a well-pitched yorker to the boundary. His approach towards Starc can also be expected to be the same.
Bowlers like Lasith Malinga, who are known for their yorkers have been hit for runs by Kohli in the past. This classy player can also play with a straight bat and at the same time pull a short ball to the boundary.
His streak of centuries against the Aussies in Australia recently against pacers who can dig the ball short is a perfect example of how Kohli can play full-length deliveries. If players like Steven Smith and ABD can challenge Starc with their innovation, Kohli can do the same with a classical technique.
When the helicopter takes off, it becomes a Herculean task to bring MS Dhoni back to normal mode. May it be the IPL or the World Cup or any format of the game, ‘Captain Cool’ has managed to have a very high strike rate when the ball is pitched up.
With a powerful bottom hand, Dhoni just heaves the ball over the fence and sometimes out of the park too. He can also smash the ball straight down the ground at the speed of a bullet. A contest between Starc and Dhoni will always be a spiced up one.
One among the emerging talents from England, Jos Buttler is another cricketer who is well versed in playing innovative and witty shots. The cool-eyed wicketkeeper-batsman has a clear mind and is quick with his feet.
With strong arms, an upright stance and aggressive hitting, he can get better of even the best of bowlers. One of the highlights with his batting is that he chooses the right balls to hit the big shots play and is capable of hitting a fuller delivery straight and hard.
Buttler plays with his bat close to his body and loves to move around the crease to bring the delivery into his zone. The scoop hit of a full length or a good length delivery is one of his key weapons.