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Running between the wickets: Textbook way of scoring runs

This post emphasizes the importance of running between the wickets in cricket.

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature 19 Feb 2018, 00:06 IST
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Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli busy running between the wickets
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli busy running between the wickets

It was the final of th 2003 World Cup and Australia had set a mammoth target of 360 for India. Chasing 360 back at that time was almost impossible and half the battle had already been lost. But Sachin Tendulkar had a different idea: “To score only a single boundary every over, which converts to 200 runs from 50 balls. 160 runs can be scored from remaining 250 balls through singles.“

The equation looked convincing and Sachin started his innings with a boundary. Pressure might have taken over Sachin and he found himself getting out while trying to pull another delivery over the fence. In the end, it was a pressure game and a batsman will try to score boundaries when there is a huge target to chase.

But the intent of Sachin was clear - to keep taking singles regularly and score intermittent boundaries.

Running between the wickets is probably the most underrated skill of a batsman. Unless it is a close game, spectators generally cheer for boundaries rather than singles and twos. Even in limited overs format, the skill of a batsman is estimated by how often he can dispatch the ball over the ropes. Running is considered a mediocre way of scoring and the innings associated with it is generally criticized.

Subramaniam Badrinath was one such batsman who was not associated with power-hitting and was gradually forgotten. He was an unsung hero for Chennai Super Kings in IPL tournaments where he stabilized most of his innings by running and often added those 20-25 additional runs on board. Those kinds of innings were often overlooked.

Now let us compare the different formats of cricket. In a Test match, a batsman usually sees a wicket-keeper, three slips, and a gully behind him. A batsman has more chances to score a boundary due to the attacking field set in this format. He has more time to understand the nature of the track and read the accuracy maintained by a bowler.

By making a correct prediction, the batsman can go for boundaries (not that he shouldn't score too many singles in this format, which is inevitable). But a mistimed shot or a wrong presumption will result in a wicket. This is the reason for a slow-paced Test match before you start witnessing a flurry of proactive drives for boundaries from set batsmen. The pace of Virender Sehwag is an exception here.

On the contrary, the approach towards limited over cricket is different. This is the format where rotating the strike would be more helpful than going for boundaries. Unlike Test cricket, a batsman doesn't have much time to settle and must defend his wicket as well.

Consider a player like Virat Kohli. A player who emphasizes more on rotating the strike instead of going for risky shots speaks volumes about his fitness. The way Virat keeps the scoreboard updated by taking quick singles is a gift in this format. You may have just seen him arrive at the crease but he would have scored 30 odd runs in a few minutes with a strike rate close to a hundred.

That's exactly what running between the wickets can do. It boosts a player's confidence, avoids the risk of a wicket, and keeps a partnership going. Those quick singles can frustrate the fielding side and forces them to commit errors. Perhaps, a single could be the difference between two sides in a close contest on a given day.

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