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Match Analysis

Mohit Sharma's take-it-easy policy makes him The Dude

T20 bowlers will always have fluctuating fortunes, and Mohit reminded us that being stoic at results is perhaps the best way to operate

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
Mohit Sharma two matches ago: 4-0-54-0.

Akash Madhwal last match: 3.3-0-5-5.

Mohit on Friday: 2.2-0-10-5.

Madhwal on Friday: 4-0-52-1.
Welcome to the world of bowlers in T20 cricket. The sooner they learn to be stoic, the better it is for their mental health.
Or be like The Dude, to whom "The Stranger" said on a particularly bad day in The Big Lebowski: "A wiser fellow than me once said, 'Sometimes you eat the b'ar, sometimes the b'ar, why, he eats you."
The b'ar here is "bear", spoken in a thick southern American accent. It is a saying apparently prevalent among hunters. One day you get the bear, another day the bear gets you. And it depends on the bear more, and more often, than it depends on you. It is something that unbeknownst to The Dude at that time sums up his life's unwitting philosophy: to be equanimous with his emotions, or as they say, "take it easy".
The bowler's fate in T20s, too, depends less on their quality and more on the batters: are they taking risks, are the risks coming off? If you get caught up in the results, you might end up like The Dude's angry friend, Walter Sobchak.
Mohit was more like The Dude after his five-for. Asked by the broadcast how he managed to make wicket-taking look so easy - one every three balls - Mohit said he got lucky with the wickets. That is stoicism right there: being indifferent to 5 for 10 and 0 for 54.
It is not to say you don't plan and practise. As Mohit said, they had decided on a new plan for Suryakumar Yadav: don't try too much against him, bowl length on pace.
"When we analysed him in the team meeting, we concluded that if you try too much against him, it makes it easier for him because he has three-four shots in his mind already. We thought let him try his shots because his shots are slightly difficult to execute against the length ball. If we had gone for six sixes to length balls, we would have been okay with that."
Mohit did get hit once for a six off a short-of-a-length ball, but he stuck to it, and Suryakumar tried his wristy ramp next ball and got bowled. On another day, that goes for a six over fine leg, and Mohit is actually questioning what they had decided: is it really okay to get hit for six sixes to length balls? Yes Mohit planned, yes Mohit executed, but still a lot of it depended on what the batter decided to do with the ball. This time he ate the b'ar, but he knows it is just as likely the b'ar eats him next time.
In longer formats, the batter is reacting to the quality of the ball; here he is obligated to hit out. In longer formats there are fewer restrictions on how much a bowler can bowl. So pulling one risk off is not enough. Just the length of the contest, and thus the increased value of the wicket, forces batters to react to the quality of the ball.
There are some old-school hitters such as MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya, who still rely on being ruthless on balls in their area and doffing their hat to ones that are not. However, the game is moving on from that. There are batters who play different shots to the same ball for no apparent rhyme or reason. They are just as likely to turn a slot ball into a wicket ball through premeditation as they are to turn a 'good' ball into a six.
You might look at Ashish Nehra so animated, in the ear of the bowlers on the boundary line, sending instructions through David Miller if the bowlers are not close to him, not hiding emotion, and you might want to ask a version of what The Stranger asked The Dude: "Do you have to use so many cuss words?" In the heat of the moment, Nehra might respond with his version of: "The f*** are you talking about?"
However, under Nehra and Hardik Pandya, the Gujarat Titans bowlers - good as they might be as a unit - have developed a tendency to not get caught up in the results. It helps that they have so much experience in their bowling attack. We might even draw comfort from knowing they are out there, "taking 'er easy for all us sinners".

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo