Bangalore: If there was ever an ODI series which turned out to be a nightmare for bowlers, the ongoing one between India and Australia would definitely stand on top of the list.
The Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Jamtha was drowned in a riot of colours on Wednesday after India scripted their second 350-run chase in six matches.
Fans returned with big smiles, the batsmen with swollen prides and the bowlers with a look of helplessness — thanks to the new ODI rules.
Little has been done to help the cause of bowlers with the shorter format of the game becoming heavily slanted towards the batsmen.
The conditions, the rule changes, the powerplays and shorter boundaries — almost everything seems to be conspiring against the bowlers.
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Under the given circumstances they could not be faulted for feeling bowling machines, a sentiment echoed by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni after the match on Wednesday.
"A few of the bowlers are disappointed, they actually feel it will be better off to put a bowling machine there. It is a new challenge for the bowlers," Dhoni said.
The much talked about two new-ball rule has made it difficult for the spinners. If the pitches are as it is becoming a common trend, the hardness of the ball makes it easier for the batsmen to tonk it around. The old ball, once weapon in the hand of slower bowlers and pacers — to produce reverse swing — has lost its appeal. Add to it a bit of dew and stage is set to put the bowlers on of fire.
Though it has been a year since introduction of new rules, it is only now the teams are learning about their effect. Dhoni has found even his best bowlers struggling.
“It (two new balls and field restriction) is a new challenge for bowlers. If you see, the bowlers are the ones who have adjusted better to the rule changes compared to the batsmen. We will have to wait and watch but as of now, on good flat wickets, with a bit of dew around, it becomes a bit unfair on the bowlers. The best of bowlers, the fastest of bowlers, even they are at times bowling with the third man and the fine leg up.”
The eligibility of only four fielders outside the circle has made the imbalance even more blatant. It has also shrunk the options for captains when it comes to field placements.
“It was more of a fight as to which side bowls less badly. With the extra fielder inside, if you are slightly off target, it goes for a boundary,” Dhoni said.
Only in the last World Cup in the sub-continent, the bowlers and captains seemed to have found a way to make the most of the powerplays with a fast developing trend of sides losing quick wickets when trying to accelerate. The new rules, however, has blunted the advantage.
There is no doubt the bowlers have turned into mere props in the batting spectacle.
The Twenty20 has brought new fans to the game but also whetted their desires of seeing a rain of fours and sixes. The pressure of survival is on the 50- over format and therefore it is being tailor made to suit the sensibilities of T20 enthusiasts.
“All of a sudden, you see, 15 overs left, 220-230 and the powerplay is left, you are not really able to digest the fact because it’s not really natural. Three and a half hours of batting, the opposition is just hitting sixes and fours,” Dhoni said.
Playing to the demands of market would not necessarily bail out the 50-over format. The domination of batsmen could set in a monotony, which might wean away the most passionate fans. It is time ICC spares some thought for the bowlers.
Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.