The game of cricket has evolved to quite a lot over the past two decades. It has become a ‘mean’ business for bowlers as batsmen have revisited their strategies to counter their deliveries, eventually giving birth to a few weird but effective shots that we regularly get to see in the matches. The evolution started with the advent of limited overs cricket. As a result, accelerating the scoring rate became a necessity. Though a few batsman tried to use the pace of the ball, others played bizarre yet effective shots to keep the score moving.
Here are a few incidents that redefined strokeplay in an otherwise orthodox game-
13. Kevin Pietersen’s mid-air helicopter shot
Pietersen invented the switch-hit shot which sparked arguments in the cricketing fraternity. The English cricketer played a mid-air helicopter shot on a full toss wide of the off-stump line. He dragged the ball from way outside and flicked in MS Dhoni style. The ball went into the crowd over deep square leg boundary. The commentators were audibly surprised as they shouted at top of their voice. Even David Miller on the non-striker’s end was amazed by the shot.
12. Brendon McCullum’s rollover scoop shot
McCullum is one of the most destructive batsmen in the world who hits the ball with his muscle power. But this time McCullum resorted to Shaun Tait’s speed. McCullum scooped the full-pitched delivery and in the process rolled over towards the popping crease on the off-stump. Tait could do nothing but laugh because this time it was McCullum who deserved the nickname that had been given to him: ‘the wild thing’.
11. Tillakaratne Dilshan’s famous ‘dilscoop’
Dilshan invented a new shot and that too against one of the fastest in the business, Mitchell Starc. Dilshan used the pace of the ball and scooped a good length delivery over wicketkeeper’s head for a maximum. Coaches recommend that a batsman needs to watch the ball till the end but this shot defies the technique in new age cricket.
10. David Warner’s advanced switch hit
Warner’s technique was never his strong point. It was his hard-hitting skills and improvisation that got him a permanent place in the Australian side. Though Pietersen invented the switch-hit, Warner is one cricketer who perfected it. The Australian opener can often be seen practising the switch hit in the nets.
Warner took on Ravichandran Ashwin in an ODI. On seeing Warner changing his stance Ashwin was smart enough to pitch the ball wide on the leg stump. But Warner backed himself and struck the ball over the boundary like he does when he is batting left-handed.
9. Glenn Maxwell’s reverse whip
Maxwell is no different when it comes to playing unorthodox shots. These shots are bread and butter for the Australian all-rounder. Reverse sweeps are common in modern day cricket but Maxwell played an advanced version of it. He struck the ball from the leg stump line and it went over the deep covers boundary. This shot is one of the reasons why Maxwell is known to be so dangerous in shorter formats.
8. Douglas Marillier’s vintage scoop
Marillier is the only Zimbabwean on the list. But Marillier revolutionised batting in the death overs with his unorthodox shot. It is because of him that the players use scoop shots these days with incredible efficiency.
7. Sachin Tendulkar’s uppercut
India’s legendary batsman revolutionised cricket whether in ODI, T20 or Test cricket. Batting tricks that are used in T20 now, Tendulkar perfected them long ago and that too in Test cricket. The ‘Master Blaster’ used Brett Lee’s pace to its efficiency. He used the short ball’s pace to get the ball in the middle of the bat somehow by bending his back. The ball usually went over the wicketkeeper and slipped for a boundary. Later on, Virender Sehwag too used this to perfection and now it is used by Hardik Pandya.
6. Jos Buttler’s cover-flick
Buttler once scored the highest ODI score in one inning. He never ceases to amaze with his improvisation by playing all kinds of unorthodox shots. The wicketkeeper-batsman made room for himself and hit the full-pitched delivery over deep covers for a maximum. The shot looked like a flick towards the offside but had enough power behind it to take it over the ropes.
5. Colin Munro copies David Warner
Munro is known for hitting the ball when hanging back at the crease. The left-hander surprised everyone when he played the switch-hit. He stunned the English leg-spinner Adil Rashid by hitting him over offside boundary for a maximum. The Kiwi batsman played the shot as if he was a right-hander, sweeping the ball with elegance.
4. Eoin Morgan’s late lower-cut
Batsmen usually make the late cut while playing the ball pitched in the line of the off-stump or wide of it. But, Morgan pulled off the late cut while moving outside the leg stump. He could have hit the stump but somehow managed to guide the ball past it as well as the wicketkeeper. Even Morgan was amused with his shot as he smiled when he got the boundary in the Big Bash League (BBL) game.
3. Yuvraj Singh’s no-follow-through shot
Yuvraj is one of the cleanest hitters of the ball. It is hard to imagine a shot without any follow-through but Yuvraj did it effortlessly. He hit the low full toss over deep midwicket for a maximum. The shot merely looked like a short arm jab but with enough power to send the ball deep into the stands.
2. AB de Villiers fine reverse sweep
No list of unorthodox shots can be complete without mentioning De Villiers. He is called Mr 360 for a reason. He can exploit every part of the cricketing field. His wagon wheel stands out when compared to other stroke-plays. ABD played a fine reverse sweep off the spinner guiding it past the short third man fielder for a boundary. The fielder was easily beaten as ABD found the gap with precision.
1. MS Dhoni’s signature helicopter shot
Dhoni’s shot tops the list without a doubt. He took everyone by surprise by first hitting the shot against the Sri Lankan fast bowler. The power behind the shot is fierce and the follow-through is awkward. This is one of the most unorthodox shots ever played to take on a fast bowler when trying to reach for the ‘block hole’.
With T20 cricket and leagues taking centrestage, shots like these are bound to frequent the game in the future. If we missed out on any, feel free to add on.