Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Twenty20 and ODIs

There has been a lot of apprehension about the Twenty20 format. It is such a short version of the game that people are worried it will result in a sort of hack-and-slash cricket. It is so attractive and popular that there are worries the beauty and the fine technique of longer versions will become obsolete.

But maybe not. The Kitply cup ODI victory may be an indication of how the Twenty20 format can actually help players prepare for ODI matches. The Indian team in the first match between India and Pakistan was fresh from the first IPL Twenty20 tournament, and not only ended the 12-ODI winning streak of the ODI-trained Pakistan squad, but routed them by 141 runs. India gave away 3 extras; Pakistan gave away 38. Pakistan fielded miserably, dropping crucial catches which allowed the Indian top-order batsmen to raise the Indian total to 330. Of course one match is not enough evidence, but maybe the Twenty20 format forces players to play a tighter, more focused game, something that the ODI-trained Pakistan squad simply had no answer to. It's a different, more nimble kind of warfare.

One of the biggest complaints about the Twenty20 format is that it is designed so that batsmen can go after bowlers. 20-run overs are not uncommon, and some think this will discourage bowlers. This is a misconception based on an inability to adjust your measures to a different situation. It needs to be understood that in Twenty20 a 10-run over is not so bad. A 5-run ODI over is the same quality as an 8 to 10-run Twenty20 over; that's all.

If anything, the bowlers' performance becomes even more crucial in Twenty20. The value of a bowler who can pull off some tight overs is very high in the 3-hour format, and the bowlers end up bowling more accurately under more pressure. This hones their skills.

The overall effect of Twenty20 remains to be seen. But initial indications are that it looks like a great thing for Indian cricket.

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