In a season marked by inventive bowling strategies, MI reaps rewards with nostalgic maneuvers

In a season marked by inventive bowling strategies, MI reaps rewards with nostalgic maneuvers

In a season where bowlers are exploring various tactics to counter the onslaught of batsmen in the Indian Premier League (IPL), a couple of strategies have emerged as unexpectedly effective. Among them are wides and the classic length balls targeting the off stump. Despite the bowlers facing relentless aggression from batsmen, coaches and mentors are devising tactics around these methods to regain some semblance of control over the rampaging opposition.

By the midpoint of the season’s 55th match, the count of wides had already reached 679, poised to surpass last year’s total of 734 by the end of the season. Bharat Arun, former India bowling coach now with the Kolkata Knight Riders, once defended wides, suggesting that they can unsettle batsmen and potentially lead to mistakes. “A few consecutive wides can disrupt a batter’s rhythm and tempt them into trying experimental shots,” Arun explained to Cricbuzz.

This strategy appears to have yielded results for teams like Rajasthan Royals, currently second in the standings, who have registered the second-highest number of wides this season with 83. Delhi Capitals (78 wides) have also effectively utilized this tactic, as evidenced by their victory over Chennai Super Kings in Visakhapatnam (Game 13, March 31), where wides played a significant role.

At the top of the table, Kolkata Knight Riders have executed this strategy well with 66 wides. Most pace bowlers are resorting to wides to frustrate batsmen. However, the tactic hasn’t quite worked for Mumbai Indians (88 wides), who incidentally have delivered the highest number of wides this season. Nonetheless, it seems that nothing has quite fallen into place for Mumbai Indians this season.

In the Monday night clash between Mumbai Indians and SunRisers Hyderabad at Wankhede Stadium, the second strategy came into play: bowlers attempting to exploit the grassy tinge and slight assistance from the pitch with the new ball, aiming for a red-ball line. Pat Cummins, in his initial two overs, predominantly targeted an off-side line, causing trouble for the batsmen.

“That approach can be effective in any format,” remarked Debasis Mohanty, former India pacer and national selector. In SunRisers Hyderabad’s innings, Abhishek Sharma fell to a delivery described by Sanjay Manjrekar as a typical Test delivery.

Debutant Anshul Kamboj consistently aimed for that length throughout his four overs. Hailing from Karnal district in Haryana, the 23-year-old displayed remarkable tenacity, precision, and discipline, albeit without commensurate rewards. He had the opportunity to dismiss Travis Head, the season’s most destructive batter, twice but was thwarted by a no-ball and a missed catch.

“If you’re selected in the Mumbai Indians’ first 12, you must be a top-tier bowler,” remarked SunRisers assistant coach Simon Helmot about Kamboj. “He’s one of the many talented young bowlers emerging in the IPL. Snaring Travis Head’s wicket would have been a significant achievement.”

Kamboj ended with figures of 1 for 42, but his performance transcended mere statistics. Amarjit Kaypee, coach of the Haryana side, believes Kamboj has the potential for international cricket. “He’s in the international class. Today he bowled at 138-139 kmph, but he regularly hits 145. He’s disciplined and a proficient batsman,” praised Kaypee. Kamboj, a former India Under-19 representative, impressed with 17 wickets in 10 Vijay Hazare Trophy games before being scouted by Mumbai Indians and picked at the auction for Rs 20 lakh.

Kieron Pollard shed light on Kamboj’s scouting and his eventual debut for MI. “Throughout the campaign, our scouting programs scour different parts of India for talent, and he was one of the discoveries. He has consistently delivered, hitting the right lines and lengths. It’s a well-deserved debut,” said Pollard.

Despite an expensive over due to a no-ball, Kamboj displayed resilience, bouncing back with two quality overs later. He earned praise for his determination and ended his spell on a high note. It won’t be surprising to see more of him in the future.

Kamboj stood out as one of the star performers for Mumbai Indians alongside Jasprit Bumrah (1 for 23), Hardik Pandya (3 for 31), and Piyush Chawla (3 for 33), all contributing to the team’s seven-wicket victory. However, the spotlight belonged to Suryakumar Yadav, who single-handedly dismantled all bowling strategies with his unbeaten century (102). Yet, for Mumbai Indians, such a dominating performance came too late in the season, if not too little.

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