Connect with us


IPL’s two-bouncers-per-over rule can spice up the season

The most wonderful IPL innovation ever will be allowing two bouncers per over. Ideally, I prefer zero bouncer restrictions.

What’s the one thing most worth waiting for in IPL16? Yes, Rishabh Pant’s return is wonderful and Bonding Index readings for Hardik Pandya-Rohit Sharma will be much fun, but we’re not talking about human beings.

PREMIUM Jasprit Bumrah bowls a brutal bouncer to Andre Russell(Twitter/Screengrab)

The most wonderful IPL innovation ever will be allowing two bouncers per over. Ideally, I prefer zero bouncer restrictions. If the size of those caveman clubs batters strut around with is not being sorted out, why shouldn’t bowlers have the licence to unleash as many thunderballs as they can?

But the two bouncer per overs rule is here and let’s give the execution of the idea credit where it is due. The two-bouncers-per-over rule was tried out at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year and Punjab’s winning captain Mandeep Singh loves it. “It was brilliant,” he said, “kuch toh mila bowlers ko (bowlers now have something) in the T20 game.”

Punjab made the most, Mandeep said, of it, lefty iceman Arshdeep Singh being its most diligent user. In the final against Baroda, Mandeep reminds us, two of Arshdeep’s three 19th-over wickets came from the short ball.

Chasing 224 to win, Baroda were 191/3 after 18 overs, the target down to 33 in two. In the 19th came Arshdeep and the bouncers. “The game turned our way at that point,” Mandeep said. Punjab won their first title since the 1992-93 Ranji Trophy.

Two bouncers per over “becomes a great wicket-taking option, particularly if you’ve got someone with pace…” Mandeep had possibilities open up, “if you were behind in the game, if the wicket was not doing anything… it was let’s try a couple of bouncers.” One bouncer had meant no matter what the field was, once the bouncer was dispensed in the first or second ball, it was on to the front foot. With two bouncers, batters are kept guessing.

The prospects of how this rule will play out in IPL are delicious, and as former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan points out, considerably different.

“A lot of young Indian domestic cricketers, probably in the IPL for the first time, are going to face a lot of chin music from the overseas fast bowlers. And from guys like Jasprit Bumrah,” he says. His wish is that the response from our young ones is fitting: “As an Indian fan, I want them to show the attitude when facing up to this.”

Because it is one thing to face two bouncers per over in Mushtaq Ali Trophy, but quite another, he says, in the souped-up summer “domestic” IPL party, where base camp starts at 135kph. “That is another challenge. Once you play kind of 135+ pace you get found out. Even though everyone now, even in domestic cricket, carries side-arm specialists who can bowl 130-140 in practice.”

The IPL pudding, however, tastes very different. “What happens when you go into bat under lights? What happens when you go under pressure? When Bumrah is steaming in, bowling two bouncers at your body?” Irfan asks.

Every batter with a suspect short ball response becomes an even bigger target. Irfan said, “You need to have the pace to bowl those bouncers… But the anticipation of when the bouncer will come actually takes away the shape of the batter.” For young Indians, the examination will be both furious and fast: “How are you coping with that, how are you mentally able to hold your shape despite the two bouncers – the battle will be won there.”

Irfan gives the example of Andre Russell, whose arrival at the crease was already met with the opposition’s premier fast bowler. Now it’s twice over, “and it depends on how Russell is going to counter it.”

Two bouncers does not mean, he said, that batting line-ups as are good as destroyed and that bowlers have already won. The question is how are batters going to cope with the prospect of the second bouncer in the head as much as the ball that will come at them. The bowlers now have a greater chance to shake up a batsmen’s shape, alignment, set-up and disturb the equilibrium of an innings. “How the bowlers use it, it depends on that.”

Since this IPL season marks the advent of a bowler-friendly rule change, I asked Irfan if he had any other idea to even out the bat-ball contest. He said: “On top of my head right now, change a wet ball after 15 overs and get the option to use dry balls that are between 15 and 20 overs old.”

Bowlers he said, “should be allowed to change at least two balls in the last five overs – give them that breather – maybe ek ball se kaam chal jaayega (maybe one ball change will do the job).”

The Pathan Plan while sounding radical comes with a detailed fine print. “This is not for every game. You identify the venues and say in this venue this ball always gets wet in the evening…” The decision to allow for a ball change to ensure that it goes from being soap to proper projectile rests with the umpire. At the start of the game keeping the familiar field conditions, dew factors in mind.

Before the toss, the captains need to agree on the freedom to change the ball after the 15th over of the second innings and the choice of ball in hand. To keep things fair, if the situation dictates, the team bowling first can change the ball after 15 overs too.

“Anyway, you have made the free-hit rule and narrowed the wide-ball margin… if you can think of this breather keeping the state of the ball in mind, it will have a huge impact.”

And to prove he’s not biased about bowlers, he has another suggestion: “Every 6 beyond 90m, give eight runs.”


Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Must See

More in News