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Sight Screen

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The L-Plan

Sachin Tendulkar apparently has figured out a way to handle Murali -- the L-plan, which I presume from this story gets its name from the two angles the offie is best played through: straight, and square on the on.
According to this plan, Tendulkar has decided to adopt a two-fold plan to counter the greatest off-spinner of the game. The “L” plan implies that Tendulkar is either sweeping or playing him down the ground.
Tendulkar has not only devised this strategy to counter the threat of Murali but also passed on an important advice to the rest of the batsmen, most of whom are youngsters.
Tendulkar has advised the rest of the batsmen to take an off-stump guard against Murali and try to sweep in front of the wicket.

Just an out-of-curiosity aside -- isn't that traditionally the best areas to play an offie through, anyways? Shots like the forcing drive square on the off work only if the bowler bowls badly (short and outside off); the inside out drive through or over extra cover works only if you are exceptionally talented in the first place, and the ball is not taking too much spin; the drive on the on, with the turn (which for instance Dravid plays a lot) again works only if it is flighted enough for you to get to the pitch, *and* the ball is not turning too sharply. And the pick up hoik over midwicket works if you are a Dhoni or a Sehwag -- *and* it is a reasonably small ground and you are sure of clearing the fielder in the deep. Not of course saying none of those shots can be played -- merely, that if you watch batsmen who are good to off spin, they tend to drive straight (the big advantage being the full face of the bat, plus pad close to it, negates the turn) and the sweep a lot.

23 Comments:

  • Prem ... The off stump guard is a bit suicidal. Prime candidate for an LBW. We already have a couple of victims. It also sets up the umpire psychologically to raise the dreaded finger, if you miss the line.

    By Blogger indCric, at 11:03  

  • So this is what Veeru doing in Jaipur game sweeping Murali. Which really didnt work as the ball was a leg spinner which pitched on leg.

    By Blogger Vick, at 11:22  

  • indcric: Not so much. It is suicidal if you stay pinned to the crease. But think of this -- facing an off spinner, your initial movement is front foot across -- and in that one half step alone, you've negated the LBW because your foot is outside line of off. It is this theory SRT is talking about, actually, and it's not a bad one -- actually, during our schooldays it was Venkat's recommendation for playing off spin.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 11:27  

  • Prem, The Off stump guard was used well by Martyn when India toured Aus. Also in the Chennai test. It seemed to frustrate the Indias, much like Gooch's sweeps in the 87 semi final.

    By Blogger Toney, at 11:34  

  • Wonder how the writer got wind of this. Or was the "L Plan" his own concoction based upon how he saw ST bat. Shouldn't batting strategies like this be a closely guarded secret at least until the series is over?

    By Blogger hjrsingh, at 11:37  

  • I think the writer came up with this based on his observations or the Indian team planted it to make Murali think a bit - although it doesn't make sense for them to plant it on Khaleej Times.

    A smart bowler would figure out the plan if he sees the batsman doing it for a few balls, won't he? I mean, wouldn't Murali just go for more arm balls or even doosras than off spinners to counter this?

    By Blogger Prabu, at 11:44  

  • What is the "L" in the "L" plan?

    Is it something so obvious that I do not get it?

    By Blogger Jaunty Quicksand, at 11:46  

  • (I got the angles's part...but I am not sure it is a true "L")

    By Blogger Jaunty Quicksand, at 11:47  

  • from straight down the ground to square leg forms a kind of a right angle and so might look like an L for someone sitting in the stand near the cover boundary...

    By Blogger Tiger, at 11:52  

  • I think the writer was referring to himself because he came up with this - the L plan - the LOSER's plan

    By Blogger Prabu, at 11:56  

  • vick...I think you're right...Murali probably observed this theory in practise...and bowled the doosra more like a legspinner...so instead of putting it on off, and aiming to fox the batsman into inducing an edge, it was bowled on leg and spinning in towards middle-leg....thus the sweep because against the turn...and more dangerous for lbw also (as happend with Veeru). So ploy is good, but Muralis is smart, and also talented enough to see through. Anyway, would be interesting to see this fight in the tests.

    By Blogger worma, at 12:14  

  • I gotta say, Salim Durani has suddenly been rediscovered by the press. It seems like he has given one interview about Sachin and Pathan and the media is breaking it up into multiple stories and filling up gaps.

    Most cricketers of today won't even know anythin about Durani. I remember him commentating in the late eighties on DD.

    I liked the part where Durani compared Tendulkar's mental toughness as to equal his own!! Of course, the Sachin baiters would take that us "Durani lacked mental toughness".

    ‘Tendulkar was challenged by criticism’
    Tuesday November 1 2005 00:00 IST

    IANS

    JAIPUR: Sachin Tendulkar's sudden return to his swashbuckling batting style has come about because he was "challenged" by sharp criticism of his slow approach, former India all-rounder Salim Durrani said here on Monday.

    "Tendulkar was badly criticised for slow batting. He was challenged by the criticism," said Durrani, 70, who himself was famous for hitting sixes on public demand.

    "He accepted the challenge, transformed his batting and replied to his critics sportingly, in the right manner," Durrani told IANS in an interview.

    Millions of Tendulkar fans were disappointed as he gave up a few risky strokes to become more cautious in his approach following toe, ankle and elbow injuries in the last few years.

    But the 32-year-old returned to international cricket, six months after the elbow injury, in the first match of the ongoing one-day series and looked completely transformed and rejuvenated.

    He smashed a 96-ball 93 in the first match in Nagpur and cracked an unbeaten 67 off 69 balls in the second in Mohali to leave his fans and critics But more than the runs, it was the change of his approach that was the outstanding feature of his knocks and it was warmly welcomed by his fans and critics alike.

    Tendulkar was again dancing down the pitch to play lofted shots as he did eight years ago, cut and pulled with disdain - at times, with contempt.

    Kabul-born Durrani, who played 29 Tests in 1960s and 1970s, said Tendulkar was able to overcome the injury and criticism as he is mentally very strong.

    "He resembles Gavaskar in terms of concentration, but Tendulkar is more aggressive than him," said the left-handed match-winning batsman who, in his day, was capable of changing the course of a match.

    The Jamnagar-based Durrani said Tendulkar has the same mental toughness as himself.

    "Sachin's stroke-making resembles Vijay Manjrekar (former India batsman) and he has the mental toughness like me. I never allowed the bowlers to dominate me, and Sachin does the same," pointed out the man who was also an effective left-arm spinner.

    Durrani, who represented Gujarat, Rajasthan and Saurashtra in domestic tournaments, said Tendulkar's greatness was to adapt to varying conditions, pitches and opposition etc.

    "These are his qualities that stand out," he said, adding that it all helped him overcome the recent elbow injury.

    "He has showed that he's still the world's No. 1 batsman, though all great players slow down in batting with age."

    By Blogger Prabu, at 12:32  

  • Prem,
    I agree the "L-plan" against Murali is simply stating the obvious in that those are the areas you want to predominantly play against the offies. However, I think Sachin is just stressing the basics and telling the youngsters to not get tempted by the huge gaps on the offside. Against lesser offspinners, it is a common sight to see batsman rock back and cut a ball that's not too short and turning into the stumps (common because of the need to get full value for your shot, as there usually is a deep square leg and long-on in place when offie is operating in ODIs). However, against Murali playing against the turn is frought with danger, no matter how vacant the offside is and how packed the legside is.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 12:42  

  • The off-stump gaurd could work well when the ball turns quite a bit (and Mural's almost always turns the ball square). I don't think this would be the preferred tactic against all off-spinners. I didn't read through all the comments to see if this point has been raised already, so my apologies if my post is redundant.

    By Blogger Shyam, at 12:55  

  • Some inside info: Indian team have taken up some clues from the aussies on how they played murali during 2004 test series. The batsmen watch on how Murali loads his body before he starts his run-up. Murali loads his body differently when he bowls a doosra. Aussies figured that out in 2004. Indians are doing the same. Well...Murali is great..he will continue to take wickets...Batsmen can only minimze what Murali can do.

    By Blogger G285, at 13:58  

  • I heard that Lehman was very good at sorting out murali and I been told that Lehman would step out to murali and undo his doosra or other deliveries by hitting over the top. SRT might be following some of those tactis.

    By Blogger G285, at 14:00  

  • g285,
    Hardly thts the case. Several of our batsmen are still unable to read doosra. Dravid and Veeru in Jaipur game were playing for a off spinner while it was turning away from them.

    By Blogger Vick, at 14:38  

  • Worma,
    Yes, in Jaipur game Murali bowled more arm balls and Doosra(on stumps) than off spinners. He is smart enough to know whats going on.

    By Blogger Vick, at 14:39  

  • g285,
    Murali's doosra is rather easy to pick for a left-hander like Lehmann. Allow me to explain:
    Since he turns the offbreak so much, he will usually pitch his offbreak to the lefty aound leg stump in order not to give the batsman too much width outside off. His doosra actually turns like a legbreak as opposed to going straight on or just deviating slightly in the opposite direction like Harbhajan's. Therefore, he bowls that on an offstump or just outside line to the leftys. If the lefty plays the line (safe since Murali is almost never going to miss his line by a foot), he can trust which way the ball is going to turn. As soon as the lefty gauges the line as around off stump or outside, he can come down the track to hit with the spin through a largely vacant onside. This is slightly more difficult for the rightys since, unlike the leftys, they cannot let as many deliveries go. The offbreak that starts way outside off can always turn back sharply and the righty is forced to play, and the doosra likely starts around offstump and a player has got to have real balls to let a delivery go that starts on the stumps. Occasionally, you do see Murali bowl the doosra down the legside to rightys, who promptly get tempted to sweep or slog over the onside, only to see the ball turn like a legbreak and trap them lbw. The bottom line is about the angle of attack. Murali could solve the problem to leftys by coming around the wicket as Harbhajan has now begun to do effectively. This way, the lefty would be forced to play everything as well.
    As far as Tendulkar picking Murali's doosra, I'm not so sure. I definitely saw one over in the 2nd ODI where he was beaten by it on about 3 occasions. However, Tendulkar has devised a plan of attack against it. He either comes down the wicket to the pitch, not letting it spin, or gets on the backfoot, after taking an offstump guard, waits to read the turn off the pitch, and works the ball to the onside if it is the offbreak. If the ball spins away from him, he either lets it go or just dabs at it in an attempt to steal a single, if possible.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 14:54  

  • I hear you vick. I am sharing with you what I heard

    By Blogger G285, at 15:20  

  • This off-stump guard thingy is not a new thing, as Prem has pointed out about Venkat's advice, for example. Even within the international arena, Naseer Hussain's England side used this approach very effectively against Murali in their acrimonius (have I spelt that correctly, or should that be spelled) series in SL...., where if I am not mistaken, Venky was an umpire!

    By Blogger The Straighter Neo, at 15:38  

  • should be acrimonious :)
    spelt is fine

    By Blogger Sahir, at 16:12  

  • Actually, the 'new theory' is a pretty conventional one. It works well when used well. The tactic of bowling the 'doosra' on leg-stump is one which Murali has used many times before, and definitely in the last series in Sri Lanka. Sehwag got out because he played a bad shot. Simply put, if you play from off-stump to a ball pitching on middle and leg, to a bowler whom you know can turn the ball to off, you have a very good chance to get out. The 'L theory' works well to balls pitched outside off and should be used thus. It can't be used as a counter to balls pitched in line with the stumps effectively.
    When a bowler has the control over line and length that Murali does, a more methodical approach is needed than to one who doesn't have such control. I think Tendulkar is just trying to instill this in the other team members. having a plan removes a lot of the uncertainity inherent in facing an accomplished opponent. In the end, a theory must be used effectively, and that is best done when it is understood. Simply following a plan without understanding what one is trying to achieve with it is actually conducive to inflexibility.
    Being able to play spin effectively is not the same as reading the ball 100% of the time. With a ball like the 'doosra',inherently bowled to deceive, anyone will fail to read it occasionally. To read it as much as Tendulkar does, being a right-handed batsman, is something. Few others can. As good as he is, he's only human.

    By Blogger djlykan, at 20:38  

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