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Kohli, Williamson offer best of both worlds
T20 cricket has become a big part of our lives as cricketers and viewers. Starting off as entertainment, the format, and especially the IPL, has transformed into a beast that stands on its own legs, rakes in the big monies and has forced the world body to contemplate separate windows.
People talked off the format at the start, saying it would never take off and that it would pose a threat to the other forms of the game. However, what we have seen is the format headlining cricket’s big revolution in terms of how the game is played now.
The shots played, the huge totals set and chased down, the rise of spinners, the evolution of pacers, the different deliveries that are seeing light of day with every passing year, the format has brought to cricket in a brief spell what cricket over many earlier decades couldn’t.
So I guess it’s now fair to say that it’s time to rewrite the old coaching manual. It’s only fair that youngsters are educated about these changes and get the best of both worlds. What we could then see is an even more evolved, perhaps more exciting, brand of cricket.
There are a few current players who have married the charm of the old cricketing books with the power and bestiality of the new, constantly-changing one. Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli are classical players, yet have in their game enough to be supremely successful in the shortest form. In a format where one is expected to look for maximum results every ball, the pair makes hitting boundaries look ridiculously easy. Boundary hitting might come easily, but that they are coupled with some extreme consistency adds to why they have been so good this IPL.
We have heard so much about getting in to the right position while playing a shot – a still head, meeting the ball under the eye etc., but to ensure all of it comes together in a high-pressure, high-adrenaline situation day in and out makes a real champion.
Players of lesser skills, or temperament would try to hit out. Hitting the ball in the air doesn’t require as much skill as keeping them on the ground. But what the likes of Kohli and Williamson have done, needs a great level of skill.
This constantly allows them to not only put away the ball balls, but also score off good ones. Add the ability to run and rotate strike well, and you have players who’re not only keeping the scorecard ticking, but also putting bowlers off their rhythm and putting pressure on fielders. No wonder then that they rank among the best in the world.
As much as 40% of their runs come by running them. (Add stats from other T20 batsmen – Gayle, Rahul, Pant). In this IPL’s top run-getter’s list, only Suryakumar Yadav has scored lesser sixes than Williamson or Kohli. Both Kohli and Williamson have an average of less than 1.5 sixes a game. Despite that, both players average in the fifties and boast of a strike rate of 130-plus.
They are the linchpins around whom the batting order revolves, and both have shown why.
Kohli has shown repeatedly why he’s in the top bracket, playing innings after innings that would go into T20 cricket’s top drawer. His 2016 IPL performance, of course, is the stuff of legends.
Williamson, on the other hand, has had his share of disbelievers. He might not have even been in the fray if David Warner was not banned from this IPL. But once he was given the responsibility, he showed that T20 cricket need not all be about 100-meter sixes. He has had a significant part to play in SRH’s dominant show so far.
As a player, I used to strive to be the complete player in all formats. It’s just not as easily done. As much as the physical strain and the ability to adapt, it requires a tremendous amount of mental ability too.
There should be more room for such type of cricketers in a squad. The likes of KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav and Ambati Rayudu have proved that in this IPL. More than staggering run rates, which a hit-or-miss kind of players would bring, their consistency helps the teams lean on them more.
Why wouldn’t they be the perfect role models for youngsters who are now caught up in cricket’s big revolution?
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