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Counter Attacking Batting
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 Counter Attacking Batting
India's current tour of South Africa is not only a battle between the top two Test playing teams, but it also has various sub plots involved. Virat Kohli and A B de Villiers are arguably the two best batsmen of their generation who will be at loggerheads in South Africa. In contrast, they will be sharing the dressing room in summer when they appear for IPL side Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Further, both are known for using heavy bats sponsored by MRF. These aren't the only things common between them, especially when you analyse their batting styles. Both are known to be aggressive on and off the field. While Kohli's theatrics can be a wee bit too much at times, check his breaching of match conduct lately; while de Villiers manages to hold on to his composure when the going gets tough. Lastly, the game changing duo can be easily swapped for each other when playing the counter on the crease! If you feel aggressive once in a while too, you can perhaps blow off some steam with betting on cricket with a promo code. It certainly will get you excited.
For the uninitiated, the counter batting style simply means when a batsman has doubts about defending his wicket at the start of his innings, he takes the game to bowler. By playing a few aggressive shots initially, he asserts his presence on the crease. This breaks the confidence of bowlers and at the same time the batsman manages to convince himself that he can survive for as long as he wishes. To sum it up, it is a classic case of "fake it until you make it"!
Coming back to South Africa, the first two tests witnessed the master class of Kohli and de Villiers' counter-attacking batting. de Villiers drew the first blood when he set the series alive by an exhibition of counter batting in the first innings of the first test. It can be argued that his 65 runs won his side the match. Kohli responded in style though in the second test. Coming to bat at 28-2, there was enough pressure already on the Indian captain, not to mention the anxiety of facing Proteas' bowlers in the form of Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander. His first shot revealed the tension as he pushed the ball to the covers for a quick single. In the next over though, he drove the ball twice off Morkel to the boundary. By the time he completed facing four overs, Kohli already registered three boundaries to reach 20 runs.
This pattern continued throughout the rest of the Indian innings.
With Murali Vijay and Ashwin playing wingman to Kohli, the Indian skipper scored 153 runs at a strike rate of over 70. His performance silenced a lot of critics and the team gained some credibility as they almost matched the Proteas' score. Kohli's counter batting performance was described wonderfully by the man who finally took his wicket. "He came out with a lot of intent yesterday, looking to score and looking to take the game forward. And for us it was just to hit our straps and stop them from scoring too quickly," exclaimed Morkel.
Maybe, AB de Villiers took some inspiration from his IPL team mate's innings when South Africa went to bat in the second innings. On day 3 of the second test, de Villiers came in with his team reeling at 3-2. The first ball he faced of paceman Bumrah, de Villiers hit for a boundary through fine leg. Facing off-spinner Ashwin in the second ball, de Villiers oozed class yet again as reverse swept for the ball to cross the boundary again.
There was no stopping de Villiers then. Kohli decided to bring in Ishant Sharma and use his height to restrain de Villier's counter attack. However, the South African managed plenty of on and off drives off the lanky paceman's overs. He cruised to his half century in 78 balls and saved the match again for South Africa, which had begun losing grip thanks to Kohli's earlier innings.
In the first innings of the third test, when India were in trouble, Kohli's strike rate was again much higher than his top and middle order team mates but still was the top scorer.
While counter-attacking batting has its pros as explained above, there is a flaw in it which can be exploited by the bowlers if worked upon smartly.
South African pitches are quite similar to sub-continental Indian tracks - generating plenty of pace with an uneven bounce. In the first innings, Ishant Sharma delivered a short ball to de Villiers which, the batsman in his aggressive style, pushed to the third man. However the angle of bat produced an inside edge and the ball deflected straight on to the stumps! In the second innings yet again, AB hit a boundary to through the third man off Mohammed Shami's delivery. Shami, defiant, bowled with the exact same line and length in the next delivery. de Villiers, as expected, tried the exact same shot again. His time however, the ball did not go as far as the third man. It rather found a thick edge and was caught by Parthiv Patel behind the stumps.
In modern cricket, batsmen are regularly expected to play the ball with a precise horizontal and vertical bat. Anything in between is likely to catch the edge of the bat and crash into the stumps or veer into the wicket keeper's gloves. It is this chink in AB de Villiers' armour that bowlers keep hitting time and again.
As for Kohli, his fourth-stump wretchedness is often the target of opposition bowlers. In the second innings of first test, Lungisani Ngidi bowled an angled delivery to the Indian skipper, who pushed his foot forward for a flick. The angle made him miss the ball which landed on his pads. A vain review wasn't enough to save the captain and his team.
Taking cue from Ngidi, Philander bowled a similar delivery to Kohli in the final innings of the second test. The furious delivery caught Kohli's leg outside the off-stump and he was adjudged leg-before again.
The India vs South Africa series can be termed as an exhibition of counter-attacking batting. He two tests so far have highlighted the pros and cons of the same. This is mainly because most of the innings haven't seen a huge total, especially due to the pitch and climate conditions. You can bet on the India vs South Africa series with a promo code here.
Handling pressure is crucial in the cutting edge atmosphere of modern cricket, snappy interruption of the current pattern of play enables teams to stay away from the tumbling down after the middle order. It isn't a simple ability, yet it is the thing that differentiates the winners from the rest.

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