13 April 2021 04:06 PM

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PARTAB RAMCHAND | 24 MARCH, 2021

Younger Brigade Exhibit a Fearlessness in Their Approach

Young and talented


They keep coming, the young and talented brigade. The bench strength of the Indian team already strong is getting stronger and what’s more the youngsters starting to make their mark are fearless in approach, not at all overawed by the opponents’ record or reputation. They give the impression of really enjoying the game and in the process the impact on their teammates is infectious.

Reverse sweeps, switch hits, helicopter shots and dill scoops are all part of the cricketing lexicon these days especially in the shorter versions of the game. But when these breathtakingly innovative shots start making their appearance in Test cricket on a regular basis then as the saying goes it is a whole new ball game.

Rishabh Pant has not exactly started something new. We have seen daring adventurers bring off these strokes for some years now but the 23-year-old Indian wicket keeper batsmen is remarkably consistent in pulling off these shots.

One must realize that the reverse sweep is not without the risk factor strongly hovering over it especially against a fast bowler. In the first place being a stroke against the science of batsmanship it can easily result in a catch if miscued. Numerous batsmen have met with this fate. Secondly the injury factor to the body is riskier for if not executed properly the ball can hit any part of the body and could cause serious damage.

The batsman must be in absolute control while essaying the shot as well as others not in the textbook and this is where Pant has excelled for when he plays it there is very little chance of a miscued stroke. Hot on the heels of his now famous reverse sweep to the boundary of James Anderson in the Test match came his similar stroke against Jofra Archer in the first T-20 game against England earlier this month.

Now there is another fearless striker of the ball in Ishan Kishan. The 22- year-old wicket keeper batsman from Jharkhand has been on the fringes of selection for some time now and when he finally got a chance in the T-20 game against England at Ahmedabad he grabbed the opportunity with both hands clobbering 56 from just 32 balls with five fours and four sixes shaping a run chase that turned out to be a breeze thanks to his brilliance which saw him adjudged player of the match.

Ishan is a bit different from Pant in that while also being flamboyant in his approach his strokes are more orthodox. He hooks and pulls with gusto but is also not afraid of playing the inside out shots.

Hot on the heels of Ishan Kishan came Suryakumar Yadav who is not exactly a new name around the cricketing circuit. He is 30, made his first class debut a decade ago and has hit 14 hundreds in 77 matches at this level. For years there has been a clamour for his inclusion in the Indian limited overs squad but the selectors preferred to look elsewhere. But you cannot keep a good man out forever and when he finally made his debut in the third T-20 against England at Ahmedabad he didn’t get a chance to bat with India wrapping up the match with seven wickets to spare. Yadav had been marked down for No 6 in the batting order but in the next game he was promoted to No 3 and immediately made it count – and how! He hit his ball in international cricket – sent down by Jofra Archer – for a six. It was short and on the leg stump and in a trice Yadav moved inside the line and pulled it over the fine leg fence with one leg off the ground.

After that extraordinary start there was just no looking back. Amidst all the power hitting there were touches of elegance too in Yadav’s batting as he stroked his way to 57 off just 31 balls with six fours and three sixes before being adjudged out to a controversial catch. In his next match Yadav maintained the tempo. Coming in again at No 3 after Rohit Sharma had got India off to a flying start he smote 32 off just 17 balls with three fours and two sixes completely dominating the second wicket partnership of 49 runs in just 4.2 overs with Virat Kohli and it was clear that the team had discovered another free stroking batsman. Yadav is making up for lost time and has already made a compelling case for inclusion in the T-20 World Cup squad even in the face of intense competition for the middle order slots.

It also is surely only a matter of time before Devdutt Padikkal dons the India cap. The 20-year-old swashbuckling batsman from Karnataka has been making waves in the IPL and his superb form in the just concluded Vijay Hazare trophy must have taken him that much closer to achieving his ambition. With 737 runs including four consecutive hundreds he was one of the two super stars of the competition the other being Prithvi Shaw who was the only one to better his figures (827 runs). Padikkal’s batting tends to be a blend of the orthodox and the innovative but the fact remains that whether the approach is textbook or not the young brigade is unafraid in their outlook. They apparently have no fear of failure and that is perhaps their biggest asset.
 

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