Playing the moving ball on English shores is a tough proposition for any side. On second day of the World Test Championship (WTC) FInal in Southampton on Saturday, the Indian batsmen often stepped out to the New Zealand bowlers in order to counter the swing.
The Indian openers probably felt that the Kiwi new-ball pair of Trent Boult and Tim Southee does not have the pace to trouble them and walked towards the bowlers to play the ball before it moved.
Stepping out of the crease is an aggressive move and tends to put the bowler off the length. A good length ball can turn into a half-volley and a yorker into a full toss.
Another aspect is that it makes getting LBW decisions difficult for the bowlers due to the point of impact.
According to cricviz stats, India’s average interception point was 2.27 metres away from their stumps. “That’s the second furthest down the track India have ever batted against the new ball (since 2006 when records began) in a Test innings,” according to the stats.
Shubman Gill, in particular, with a new look-opening stance, was fantastic with his footwork, stepping out to negate swing and presenting the full face of the bat for drives.
This move worked particularly well against Southee as he turned a couple of out-swingers into half-volleys and dispatched them with ease. It also helped India survive the first hour.
This method normally designed to negate swing and seam can be countered by ball speed, forcing a batter back to the crease. The Kiwi pacers recorded an average speed of 135 kmph.
Former India cricketer Sanjay Bangar backed the move and said, “It looked good for India purely because of the way the openers applied themselves. They were proactive in their approach. They were not wanting to hang back and were standing outside the crease.”
The former national batting coach explained, “At times, they were walking towards the bowlers, which Shubman Gill did regularly. Just to disturb the lengths of the New Zealand bowler. I felt that they succeeded in that because they disturbed the lengths, New Zealand had to try out different field placements at times, which normally they would not have done.”
However, Kylie Jamieson did not take kindly to this strategy and his 135 kmph snorter struck Gill on the helmet, warning him to stay at the crease.
— Zulqarnain Mushtaq (@zulqarnain531) June 19, 2021
Gill’s average interception point against Kyle Jamieson before being hit was 2.3m (from his stumps). But even after being hit, it was still 2.3m; showing a clear positive intent with no sign of backing off.
India skipper Virat Kohli’s approach to swing bowling was similar to Gill’s as he tried to intercept the delivery more than two metres away from his crease.
This was his way of trying to smother the swing and did bring him a fair bit of success.
Here is an image that shows how he was out of his crease to nullify movement but also playing late.
This is a cool side on annotation & goes back to something @eddiecowan spoke about recently around combining interception point data with side-on footage. In this instance the combo shows Kohli playing out of his crease (nullifying movement) but still playing late. #INDvNZ #WTC21 pic.twitter.com/EnS7zicds7
— Freddie Wilde (@fwildecricket) June 19, 2021
New Zealand’s all-out pace attack made India top order batsmen work hard under overcast conditions in the world test championship final on Saturday.
Kohli was unbeaten on 35 and Ajinkya Rahane was not out on 13 as India moved to 120/3 before early tea was taken due to bad light.