Of the myriad aspects of cricket, the one thing that gives us great thrill is perhaps the great shots played by different batsmen. From straight drives, to cover drives, to pulls and today’s more audacious yet exciting shots; all of them give us a great amount of delight to watch. Here then is a list of five great cricket shots and the batsmen who mastered them.
Sachin Tendulkar’s straight drive: There were fewer sights better in cricket than a Sachin Tendulkar straight drive. Although there were many players who played this shot, it was Tendulkar who made it look so regal. It was all so blissful and yet nonchalant: the lifting of the bat, making it meet the ball gracefully and then stroking it straight back past the bowler with an effortless thump. You could watch it for hours at end and yet never get bored of it. Scores of bowlers had had to face Sachin’s wrath but whilst being hit for a straight drive by him, even they were left admiring it.
Gillchrist’s pull: There was one essential rule while bowling to Adam Gilchrist: never bowl short to him. A bowler had to go short by a few inches and the Australian would just swivel and smash the ball to the boundary in matter of seconds. There were and still are several players who play the pull shot effectively. However, Gilchrist was just so fast and consistent while playing the pull shot that he made it his own.
KP’s switch-hit: This shot created quite a bit of news when England’s Kevin Pietersen began using it. Bowlers were up in arms against it but eventually the ICC did not find any flaw against the shot. Essentially, the shot means that the batsman would change his stance- after the bowler has released the ball – and then try and score runs of it. This really catches the bowler off-guard and is useful when run-scoring is getting difficult. The shot is very difficult to execute but KP made it look very easy. Currently, Australian David Warner too has perfected the switch-hit and plays it to perfection. These shots generally are slog-sweeps or lofts over long-on and long-offs. Very unusual, but quite exciting to watch.
Dilscoop: It is very rare for a shot to be named after a batsman but Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan achieved that distinction with his ‘Dilscoop’. It is probably one of the most dangerous shots in cricket for if you don’t play it to perfection, the ball may end up breaking your nose. It involves ‘scooping’ the ball over your shoulders with a slight flick or ramp. Although the shot is named after Dilshan, it was Zimbabwe’s Douglas Marillier, who is known to have first played it. In an ODI in Perth, versus Australia, Marillier played this shot against Glen McGrath who was left smiling. Later, he also went on to play the ‘scoop’ to upset India in an ODI at Faridabad. Today, several players play the ‘Dilscoop’ and are adding different variations to it.
Dhoni’s ‘Helicopter’ Shot: The first time when Mahendra Singh Dhoni played this shot was probably against England in an ODI in Goa. The bowler, the fielder and even the commentators on air were left speechless after seeing it. The crowd, though, loved it and still asks for it every time Dhoni walks on to the crease. The shot is extremely difficult to execute and is played primarily to full-length deliveries and yorkers. Dhoni plays it with a real flourish: a high backlift, then lofting the ball with real power in the air and ending in a majestic square-on follow-through. The shot involves a lot of wrist work and to play it perfectly you need to have lots of practice and, above all, really powerful wrists. The way Dhoni played and executed it, smashing sixes off even Lasith Malinga’s immaculate yorkers, was quite breathtaking. He doesn’t play it that often these days but how we wish he does!