March, 31, Delhi
How many ways are there to bat perfectly in a Twenty20? The second semi-final in Mumbai, between India and the West Indies showed us at least two ways.
First things first though: the relief of watching such a high-stakes game purely as a neutral fan, and not in a professional capacity with a deadline hovering over your head like the Sword of Damocles is a relief unknown to most humankind. It is such a relief that most TV commentary even becomes bearable. For a while.
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All the while India batted, it was impossible not to be blown away by the intelligence and athleticism of Virat Kohli’s batting. On a relatively small ground and against decent and athletic fielders, he somehow ran 10 doubles, and India ran 19 in all. Along with MS Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane, Kolhi provided a veritable masterclass on the art of running.
They played only 26 dot balls, hit 17 boundaries and four sixes. This was low fuel-burning driving — efficient, effective, sleek and modern.
The West Indies? That is not how they are built to bat. Their batsmen played out nearly double the number of dot balls — 50 in all, or, 2.5 dot balls per over. In a chase of 193.
But they have a line of the game’s most ferociously powerful hitters, so much so that on Thursday night, they could even afford a Chris Gayle failure and chase the target down. Each time the pressure of dot balls built up, they knew they could catch up with boundaries.
So when Jasprit Bumrah bowled three dot balls to start the 18th over (West Indies needed 32 when the over began, or nearly 11 an over), Lendl Simmons hit the last three for six, two and four to end up ahead of the rate by over’s end. They ran just five doubles but hit 11 sixes (and 20 fours).
This was, ultimately, a rare old battle between two schools of Twenty20 batting, one that is emerging and one which is the popular stereotype of how batting should be.
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