India keeping it calm during Power Play

India keeping it calm during Power Play

Batting power play is a double-edged sword. It can be a boon for the batting side if made use of it effectively. But if things don’t pan out as planned, it can throw an innings out of gear.

After struggling to hammer home the right formula for months, India appear to have found a solution to their batting power play woes in the World Cup. India haven’t lost a wicket during the five-over block, the only side to do so in the tournament and it’s a strategy that has worked wonders for the team. India haven’t resorted to mindless slogging in a bid to make the most of field restrictions and by exercising that controlled aggression, they have been able to cash in on the slog overs well.

“I think power play is something we have done well on and off,” pointed out Dhoni. “I don't think we have consistently done well in the power plays. What actually went wrong quite a few times was the fact that we actually lost a wicket just before the start of power play, and then, you go into the first over, and the second over you lose one more wicket, and from that point you can't really cash in during the power play,” Dhoni remarked.

You need not look too far behind to understand Dhoni’s reasoning. In the tri-series that preceded the World Cup, India lost as many as six wickets in the three completed matches during batting power play overs that killed the momentum of their innings. In the first match against Australia in Melbourne, India lost a wicket in the 34th over and an over after that their batting power play was to resume. They lost another during power play and ended up collecting just 19 runs. Against England in Brisbane, India lost three after taking power play from the 35th over and from 135 for five, they were bowled out for 153 in the 40th over.

It was a similar tale in Perth when England picked two batsmen during power play having claimed one just before the field restrictions had come into force. As a result, India were all out for 200 from being 133/4 at the start of 35th over.

The changed approach, however, has brought in change in India’s fortunes. Against Pakistan, they managed just 25 runs but the fact that they were 217/2 by the end of 40th over, meant that they could collect 83 runs in the last 10 despite some sharp death bowling by Wahab Riaz and Sohail Khan. South Africa conceded 44 runs as India reached 227 for two after 40 overs and notwithstanding the wobble towards the end, 80 runs came off the final 10 overs. Against UAE, the West Indies and Ireland, the power plays didn’t prove crucial but they were critical in Zimbabwe and Bangladesh games when India gathered 39 and 50 runs respectively.

Against Zimbabwe, Raina and Dhoni hit just four boundaries while the rest came in singles and twos. In the 50 runs against Bangla, Raina and Rohit struck six boundaries and ran 13 singles and a couple of twos. The momentum India gained during this period helped them sail through at a good pace in the slog. 

“What we are doing well over here is we are playing proper strokes,” Dhoni noted. “What's important is not to consider power play as a lottery system where you're like, okay, five overs, we want to get 55-60 runs. I think if you look for 35 to 40 and if you bat well, you will end up getting 45 runs. Not only that, it actually gives you a bit of momentum going into the slog overs, and with two set batsmen and the bowler slightly on the back foot, you can accumulate more runs. I feel in the last few games that's what we have done; we haven’t aimed too high, but at the same time played quite a few proper cricketing shots, and that has really helped.”

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