New Zealand v India, 2nd ODI, Hamilton January 21, 2014

Important to want to hit the short ball - Kohli


You have got to commit to your shot entirely - Kohli

If India's batsmen need advice in tackling the short ball, they can get it from their team-mate who cracked 123 off 111 in his first international innings in New Zealand, in the first ODI in Napier. Before the second match in Hamilton, Virat Kohli said that it was important to want to hit the short ball in order to get into a good position to do so, while elaborating on his approach.

New Zealand had made it clear before the series started that they planned to target the Indians with pace and bounce, especially on faster pitches, and four of India's top six subsequently fell to the short ball in Napier. Kohli said that as international batsmen, the Indians needed to be technically and physically better equipped to deal with that.

"It's a very personal choice of any team, what sort of plan they want to come up with against us," Kohli said. "I think a lot of teams have tried to bounce us out but that hasn't been the case for the longest time that I have seen. Mostly the bouncer is a plan to set you up for the next ball to nick you off. A bouncer is never to scare you away, it is just to put in the batsman's head that there might be a short ball coming, another one, because you have two in the over now.

"I think as international cricketers, we have got to be good enough to stand up to that challenge and be fit enough to actually react to those deliveries. That's where your fitness counts as well. If you are not fit enough, you might not have the reflexes to actually tackle a ball thrown at 150 kmph and you might be totally exposed or found in a very uncomfortable spot. As I said, we should be prepared to face anything. If it is a seaming wicket, if they are trying to nick us off, then we should be technically correct to tackle that. If they are trying to bounce us out, we should be technically correct to leave the ball or, if confident, pull the ball."

Detailing his own methods, Kohli said one could either strike or leave a bouncer in the end, but it was important to be balanced and set up to play the initial shot.

"I think even to leave the ball on a bouncer, it is very important to want to hit the ball. If you are looking to leave the ball, your weight is already on the back foot and then you are in no position to leave or hit the ball. If you are looking to hit the ball, you take your body forwards and then you can be balanced enough to duck under it. I think that is one key aspect that a lot of people mistake.

"If you are looking to leave the ball, then more often than not you will get hit on the glove or the helmet. If I am looking to hit the ball, then I can get under the ball much better, I have much better balance because my body is going forward. I have a good base to duck under the ball.

Kohli said he preferred to pull rather than hook, and that too in front of square, a strategy he said gave him more control. "Even if I am not ducking, if I have a good base, then I have confidence to actually pull the ball and I look to hit it in front of square. I hardly look to hook the ball unless it is on my body, so it gives me more control. It gives you that extra half a second because you know you have to hit the ball in front of square, so you have to be quick enough to do that. You have to be quick enough to tackle the ball coming at 140."

Having a clear mind was also crucial, Kohli said. Completely backing whatever he decided to do with a particular delivery, and doing it wholeheartedly, was something he said he had picked up in South Africa.

"One thing I learnt in South Africa was when you are batting, whatever you are doing, you need to commit to it fully," he said. "Because people are bowling at you at 140-145 kph, there is not much time to decide and think later on, after the ball is bowled. Whatever you want to do, you got to read the length and commit to the shot. If you want to leave the ball, you have got to commit to that."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Simon on January 22, 2014, 2:43 GMT

    Very profound argument. Who would have thought that playing short bowling required you to watch the ball closely, stay balanced and follow through with the shot. Who would have thought it?

  • Peter on January 21, 2014, 21:37 GMT

    @blthndr ."If you are looking to leave the ball, your weight is already on the back foot and then you are in no position to leave or hit the ball". I guess you don't play cricket, but I'll try to set you straight. Going on the back foot is the BEST way of playing the short ball. When you pick it up the right foot (if right handed) goes back & slightly across (how far depends if you play the hook or duck). This allows you to drop your left knee & duck taking you below the line of the ball. If you hook or pull (which I nearly always do personally) you watch the ball & use your back foot to swivel as you play the ball to its intended direction. I don't play with a helmet as I learnt to play without it so always keep my head inside the line of the ball, but even if you do, you tend to leave your head more in the line of the ball. Playing off the front foot leaves you less time & cramps you up to play a full shot.

  • Android on January 21, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    the important thing is he said you have to be good enough and that is the thing they are not good enough only good at home where the ball doesnt bounce above waist height and wickets are like graveyard for bowlers

  • uncle bob on January 21, 2014, 18:31 GMT

    Rohit Sharma has proper technique and foot work, but the guy cant even touch the ball and he is sure pick in the eleven. In my opinion Rohit derails Indian batting and Ishant indian bowling. Replace these two and team India will start winning again.

  • Ashok on January 21, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    Kohli's advise is fine as long as the batsmen is set+can get their feet in position + get their timing right. But guys like Raina, Jadeja or Dhoni do not have proper foot work or technique to get into position quickly enough. So they need to leave the ball well alone instead of foolishly surrendering their Wicket. If Dhoni thinks the bouncer is like a red flag waved at the raging bull & goes for his hook, he will be an easy out. He did this in the very first over bowled to him & he paid dearly cost India the Match. Jadeja did the same at a short pitched ball to claim his golden Duck. Raina has fallen many times to bouncers- long way outside the leg. Common sense tells us: leave the bouncer down the leg side well alone to get a single + an extra ball + bowler who wasted twice his energy.30% of bouncers fall in this category. So out of 8o possible bouncers from 4 seamers, 25 singles! Clearly NZ is goading India into this "suicidal Hook". Be COOL- Do Not fall a Prey to this Gamesmanship!

  • Rahul on January 21, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    Dont understand why Rohit Sharma's batting pedigree is under question again. Dont put ptressure on him, Guys. He is quality. And it will show. 3 batsmen of pedigree are Virat, Pujara and Rohit. Build the Team around them in all forms of cricket. I would call to question the futures of Raina and Shikhar. Both have a short ball problem - of different kinds though. Shikhar is compulsive and Raina shows bravado. I think he is scared of being hit like Dada was! Both Raina and shikhar should pay heed to Virat's technique. Makes lot of sense to get on the front foot with a uni dimensional mind set - which is to hit the ball. At the very least this takes one fork out of the decision tree

  • Harry on January 21, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    Kohli is right in his attitude and that is why he will be successful. Rohit and Dhawan can learn from him to make the Ind top order strong. Ind won the matches against Aus in India when the top 3 scored a lot of runs.

    Raina is not a good fit in the ODI line up, replace him with Rayudu or Binny. All else will be fine. They should look at Pujara since he is a great player of fast and short bowling as well as spin. He may not score rapidly like Dhawan or Kohli but he is solid in the top order unless Rahane and Rayudu can do that.

  • Dummy4 on January 21, 2014, 14:41 GMT

    Bouncers are always trouble any top class batsmen in the world. History reveals that even present day cricket, English batsmen too were troubled by Australian bowlers and years back West Indian bowlers dominated. Years back Sandip Patil was hit in one Test and he came back very hard and hit back all same bowlers in the next encounter and scored 170 plus. This means, Dedication and determination of batsmen can alone solve.

  • Easwara on January 21, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    I think another biggest worry that India has is Jadeja's batting form. currently he is performing as a bowler, but he was taken into account under allrounder quota. Jadeja has to work hard to come back strong as a batter as well otherwise his position may be in danger. Kohli has been playing well and I think he is another batsman pretty much scored century on all test playing nations. He is also good learner, more over his aggression is what putting him on top. Rohit used to be attacking player but he is playing so defensively, he has to come out of that mindset and play positively. Dhawan is good, and have to concentrate more on why he is not able to convert starts into 50's/100's before disappear. I would recommend too many changes, except playing Binni and/or Rayudu in place of one spinner/Raina. Easiest thing I wud think is replace Raina with Binni/Rayudu and test them at that level and with Binni he can bat and bowl as well. any ways good luck Team India, win the series.

  • randolf on January 21, 2014, 12:36 GMT

    @ Francis Arun Bjorn Mel, The Gt Sunil Gavascar is arguably the best batsman of All Time against "FAST" and well directed bouncers. Yet, he told us all that not even he was comfortable against it! So, I don't know what is your problem. In fact, I don't think that since Bret Lee retired from test cricket, I've seen any bowling at any 'sustained' pace to call real 'FAST' bowling; until I saw Mitchell Johnson against the English men in Australia recently. What Mitch was doing is close to what middle aged cricket enthusiasts like me were more accustomed to call "FAST BOWLING" long ago. Gavascar and players of his era used to have four like that coming after him/them from both ends for an entire test match. They faced them without helmets; on less prepared pitches. And look at how devastating Mitchell Johnson ALONE was against England on good pitches. So, you would see why we only laugh when people are comparing the soft guys of now with what the real thing was then in Sunny Gavascar days!

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