Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Trademark shots

It’s happened countless times...

After getting relatively set, Sachin plays one of the straight drives which has the purists drooling. And the commentator (Mr. Manjrekar / Mr. Shastri being the usual suspects) observes, "Now that he has found his timing, he looks set for a big one."

No, this is not about our national obsession of whether Mr. Tendulkar is past his sell-by date. It’s not about what Mr. Manjrekar's views on the subject are. And it’s definitely not about Mr. Shastri's receding hairline and his increasingly shriller views on the fitness levels of the Indian team (coming from him, that’s a bit thick!).

This is about the shots which makes the world’s top batsmen what they are. The shots which are deeply etched in the collective consciousness of the viewing public. The shots which some have made their very own.

Tendulkar – A natural tendency is to go for the straight drive or the (rarely seen anymore) lift over mid-wicket. But my personal choice is the punch off the backfoot through backward point. The bend of the front leg while going back and across and the blade descending in a blur, ahhh … this would always be Sachin for me.

Ponting – Nothing else but the audacious front-foot pull off fast bowlers. The bat starting at right waist and ending up over left shoulder to deliberately lift the ball over the boundary. Just to show all the Ntinis and Harmisons of the world, who’s the boss. And some catching practices in the crowd for added fun.

Dravid – A toss up between the textbook cover-drive and the on-drive played with magical wrists. My vote for the on-drive, simply because of its difficulty levels against faster bowlers and the way Rahul finds the gap every time with this one early in his innings. A special mention to the lofted extra cover drive, something seen infrequently, but oh what a shot !

Sehwag – A popular choice would be sword thrust flaying the ball in the general direction of point / cover point. But for sheer amusement value it’s the inside-out cover drive which he plays off spinners while going towards the leg side and exposing all his stumps. A shot to give Geoff Boycott the shudders and Shane Warne a particularly bad migraine.

Lara – Undoubtedly the scissor like cut played off spinners. I have no choice but to quote Osman Saiuddin here who sums it up most evocatively – “That back lift, golf-like, paused and poised briefly at the top of its arch, is almost as compelling as the shots that it eventually manufactures. The real wonder is how he coordinates so many movements - the shuffling, the back lift, the bendy wrists twitching at the death to find gaps, lifting the knee - into just one picturesque image.”

Ganguly – The one which shortened the domestic careers of many a left arm spinner and which I am sure still gives Ashley Giles some sleepless nights. Its all there - the quick judgement of the length, the lightning step-out and the dramatic finale laced with delicious timing sending the ball to the mid-wicket stands. (And Tony Greig repeating those stupid words for the umpteenth time, “They are dancing in the aisles, out there.”) It’s a pity we may never see its like again in an International match.

Gilchrist – The thump over mid-wicket to perfectly good wicket taking balls on the off-stump. The ball ricocheting off the boundary boards before the bemused bowler completes his follow-through. And then a wide good-natured grin to show the bowler “Well, that’s life, mate! Nothing personal in it, ya know.” In case you could only record what the bowler wants to say at that moment, it would have put the Amar Singh tapes to shame !!


Dipta Chaudhuri said...

Ganguly's silken cover drive is actually the best.
You never realise the ball will actually cross silly point because it it so economically played.
And of course, the Maharaja's impudence in refusing to run after playing it!

Anonymous said...

well my favorite is lara's cut and tendulkar's drive - don't know whether ganguly and sehwag deserves a mention among these players --- but great description of all players


Asheesh.Pandey said...

I would like to add two more to this list:
1)Mark Waugh's flick of the wrist
on the on side.
2)Mathew Hayden's Booming Cover Drive
on a Half bended Knee !!

Cyzak said...

Gr8 Post...
But my favorite Sachin's shot is his paddle sweep, when he thrashes the bat on top of the ball, and ball goes so fine that rest 12 (players) + 2 (Empires) also join the ranks with the enthralled spectators

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eastbengal said...

Nice.And am glad you got the bit about us not seing Ganguly agin in an International match wrong :)