Defined as a fine balance between bat and ball, the game of cricket has witnessed some fiery battles and challenging contests between the willow and the cherry in the years gone by. It always remained a strangely pleasing sight to watch a lanky fast bowler threatening to rip apart the well-armed techniques of the batsman with his menacing pace and bounce.
For cricket fans, growing up in the early decade of the new millennium, this competition offered its own queer excitement, as hours was spent counting down the first ball of the match.
Even when their lives changed into hectic zones, many still found a comforting sphere in the world of intense cricket, until the inception of T20 cricket intimidated to snatch away the last clutches of childhood — inventing a format that discarded the bowlers and focused on the boundaries and sixes instead.+
Just as the world remained divided on the seriousness of the shortened format, the increasing number of rain-marred T20 games forces one to dissect the perils of such a scenario.
Test cricket remained the ultimate form of sport to many. Stretched over five days, it provided adequate chances to both the batsmen and the bowlers to grind it out and display their mettle in varied conditions. The arrival of the 50-over format was seen with hesitance initially, but it was not long before the old-school experts warmed up to cricket in coloured clothing — viewing it as a format which offered its own difficulties to master.
T20 cricket to them, however, remained a far-cry from what cricket promised in the first place, which was a fine balance between the bat and the ball.
With 20 overs to bat and 6 overs of powerplay to go with it, the batsmen have been mocking the 4 overs of the bowlers with an onslaught that might be enjoyable to witness but harmful to the overall health of the game. Now imagine, the hazards in a 5-over game, the minimum overs that each team needs to play in case of a rain-hit encounter.
With each bowler getting just 1 over to bowl against the batsmen who will be looking to pile on as many runs as possible, it indeed becomes a sorry plight for the bowling unit. Even if the pitch assists the bowlers, as it did in the 3rd T20I game between India and New Zealand, eight overs of bowling remained far too less to applaud and appreciate the leg-spin of Ish Sodhi and Yuzvendra Chahal or the brilliant yorkers by Jasprit Bumrah. We wanted to witness more!
With the batting team being allowed all 10 wickets, it throws away the proportions from the match, creating an unjustified imbalance between the two parameters of the sport. The batsmen too have to merely switch off their thinking capabilities and hit as many deliveries as they can out of the park. If a player can stomp a century in a rain-hit T20 game, albeit in an IPL one, the levels of disparity being seeped into cricket remains a fearful thought indeed.
This raises the question of accommodating a reserve day for each T20I game. Yes, it will raise eyebrows but in a format that already manages to shrink the cricketing prowess, further shrinking it down to 5 overs will only manage to hamper cricket. A reserve day can promise to counter this.
The Eliminator between Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League was faced with such a proposition. With no reserve day allocated, it would have been a shame to see SRH qualify for the next stage based on the fact that they had finished higher than KKR in the league table. It was eventually reduced to a 6-over chase for the Knights after the David Warner-led team had batted out their 20 overs for 128/7.
SRH went at a run rate of 6.4 runs per over before the rain came peltering down and KKR were set a target of 8 runs per over for victory. The Duckworth Lewis Methods, even in the 50-over format fails to be deciphered and in the shortest format, it just remains a glaring and a bewildering phenomenal.
Unless the International Cricket Council comes up with a set of regulations specifically marked for the weather-affected T20 games, the reduced intensity of competition and the futility of the talent on display will be increased to all-new levels in such matches.