In the 15th on the Delhi Capitals’ innings – just as the batting side had battled the momentum of the Mumbai Indians – Rohit Sharma knocked Nathan Coulter-Nile in the attack. It has been widely interpreted as a defensive ploy – its inclusion at the expense of James Pattinson himself was seen as counterintuitive.
Until the fifth ball, the introduction seemed like madness, after Rishabh Pant crossed a pair of limits. The first was more of a paddle stroke, while the second was four in the lead. The latter embodied everything that risked a short ball, his ridiculously slim margin of error on a relatively smaller pitch. Short bowling always flees from lanes, often within bounds and with the top edges coming into play, it’s difficult to predict where the ball will fly as there is a lack of protection behind the wicket keeper. Then, good drummers have an array of sophisticated strokes to fuel them up, like ramp and upercut. One reason, it’s not considered as valuable as a Yorker.
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But that didn’t stop the West Australian from slipping into another shortball later. It landed in the same area of the field. Pant, instinctively as much as prematurely, was in the hook. Only that it took forever to reach it. It was also a shade closer to his body as he pivoted at the crease. And all he did, for the Sufi dancer like the pirouette of his body, was to splice the ball on the perfectly positioned defender, who had just gone from short, thin leg to deep.
The change of scope was the only sign of another impending bouncer, which he didn’t read. The bowler left no clue. Because Coulter-Nile had masterfully disguised it. As with any slower bullet, the deception was in his disguise. Momentum and rally were the same movement, tracking, arm speed and release were identical in intensity.
The difference was just in terms of grip. He had spread his index and middle fingers so that the whip of the ball when it was released was reduced, which means that the ball decelerates after landing. The ball goes up like a fast bouncer, but arrives about 20-25 km / h slower. Coulter-Nile’s high-handed action makes it all the more difficult to decipher. His usual speed was 140 and so. But Pant’s wicket was 125, while Axar Patel’s later pushed 120.
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Batsmen face slower, fuller balls. But well-guided, well-disguised slow bouncers are hard to fend off. To shoot and hang are instinctive shots.
There are no half measures on this. After judging the length, the batter is already almost at the end of the shot. So if the ball unexpectedly arrives slower, its balance is completely out of place. He can’t check the shot except when he’s driving. Neither his hands nor his wrists can save him from trouble. This is why you often see a batsman initially tricked by a slower bouncer doing a desperate flap as he floats past him, still hurting him.
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Like Shimron Hetmyer. The Guyanese has a swift blade and a pair of sharp eyes. So good that he had enough time to detect Trent Boult’s slower ball, but didn’t have the increased control of his muscle memory to change his shot. He was already engaged in the upper cup, he tried to slow down his shot but all he could do was hit the ball softly in the short third man. What else could he have done? Maybe in a practice match he could have pulled out of the shot. But even this method is doomed to fail.
Perhaps the last bowler he would have expected a slow bouncer was Boult, someone who uses their bouncers sparingly or enjoys a drastic change of pace. Over the course of the four overs, he threw a real shooting bullet and a single delivery below 115 km / h. The New Zealander, even in the event of a death over, does not normally resort to such new-age tricks. This only added to the value of the shock. Boult does things differently: he cuts his fingers on the ball. With his slippery speed, Boult’s version is slyly good. The drummer would hardly anticipate such a dramatic change of pace.
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Coulter-Nile has a variety of ways to extract slowness from the terrain. Like Boult, he cut his fingers off the ball and also let go with the knuckles. Such a delivery deceived Axar Patel. The delivery was even harder to figure out as it barely exceeded Patel’s mid-riff. He expected the ball to go up to his waist, but must have pulled it from a much lower point. The dryness of the surface encouraged Coulter-Nile, as the ball gripped and got stuck in the field. Even Shreyas Iyer couldn’t buy the limits of Coulter-Nile’s slow short balls.
It was a time of personal vindication for Coulter-Nile strapping. There has been a lot of criticism of his inclusion at the expense of fellow Aussie James Pattinson. As talented and quick as Pattinson is, he lacks Coulter-Nile’s expertise. Not least, his slow short bullets that dealt a fatal blow to the capitals of Delhi to death.