By Sudharsan Ramarao
Swing bowling is arguably one the most difficult facets in the game of cricket. For it involves maneuvering multiple elements: The wrist position, the direction of the seam and the direction of the breeze. The ability of a bowler to conjure up swinging deliveries while managing the aforementioned variables is what makes swing bowling artistic as well as a compelling watch.
Ashok Adikoppulla is one such bowler who can swing the ball prodigiously. Possessing a high arm action with a beautiful release of the ball, he can produce stinging in-swing that poses multiple challenges to the batsmen. The batsmen need to watch the release, judge the length, cover the trajectory of the ball and then play it with soft hands. Anything amiss, he could swallow them up easily. Saturday, July 14th was one such occasion where the Panthers batsmen were found wanting as Ashok scythed through their top order in no time resulting in the first ever hat trick in the T20 Electric league.
Chasing a modest total of 103, Panthers started off on a disastrous note as they lost the first 3 wickets in the very first over of the chase bowled by Ashok. First it was Christopher selvaraj who hit a full length in-swinging delivery with the inside half of the bat thereby scooping a catch to square leg. Then it was John Krupavaram who played all over a peach of a delivery: A good length in swinging delivery hitting the top of the middle. Finally, it was Kiran Vishnu, their batting mainstay, who got yoked himself with a full length in-swinging delivery only to be judged LBW.
By the end of the first over, Ashok had already taken the life out of the Panthers batting as the job was left to Kushal Vaishnav, the other opener and Harsh Jogi to steady the innings. But they didn’t last long either as Kushal was run-out trying to steal a tight second while Harsh was out bowled courtesy of a stunning piece of bowling by Ramathirtha Randi. Ramathirtha, the other opening bowler, set him up beautifully by bowling series of out swingers and then followed it up with an in-swinging Yorker that caught Harsh by surprise. Umesh Reddy and Sita Ram Vaddi provided some lower order resistance but that was not enough as the Panthers folded for 77.
Earlier, the Highlanders won the toss and chose to bat on bright sunny day. In what was a repeat performance of their earlier batting efforts, the Highlanders batting floundered once again as most of their batsmen could not convert their starts to a big score. Opener Varun Penmatsa was back in prime form but was out to a freak run-out. The other opener Naveenan Thiagarajan was caught at slip trying to hit the ball too hard. Vishal Sridhar was timing the ball sweetly but was out caught behind in an unfortunate dismissal. Hariprasad Amanapu, the batting mainstay, mistimed a lofted drive to deep cover.
Only the skipper Sridhar Mahendrakar, coming in at 3 found some sort of rhythm as he batted through most of the innings. He played delightful strokes thru the extra cover region and made sure he ran hard and took advantage of the vacant gaps in the field. He got out for 29 trying to up the tempo of the innings. The Highlanders made a subpar 102. For the Panthers, Harsh Jogi picked up 3 wickets with his medium pace.
For his impressive bowling performance that got him 4 wickets including a hat trick, Ashok was adjudged the man of the match.