One-day cricket has undergone a sea change since it came into being in the seventies. From 60 overs matches, the game soon turned into a 50-over affair before the introduction of the T20 format which attracted huge popularity © Getty Images

 

 

By Vipul Deshpande

 

When one-day cricket began, it used to be played at a pace similar to that of Tests. For almost two decades, the game hardly changed in the way it used to be played. Even score of about 250 was considered to be a good enough score to win a match. Sunil Gavaskar played the infamous knock of 36 not out, batting throughout the innings.

 

It all started in the 1996 World Cup when Sanath Jayasuriya was asked to open the innings for Sri Lanka. And the rest, as they say, is history. It was he and Sachin Tendulkar, who showed to the world that the best time to score runs for the team is during the first 15 overs, when fielding restrictions are on. While Tendulkar became the highest run scorer in the tournament, Jayasuriya played many crucial knocks, scoring at lightning speed which helped Sri Lanka lift the World Cup Trophy for the first time.

 

The success story of these two youngsters changed the one-day cricket forever. Since then, teams try to score as many runs during the fielding restrictions or the Power Plays, as it is known today.

 

Many other batsmen like Shahid Afridi, Keiron Pollard, Adam Gilchrist, Mathew Hayden and Virender Sehwag have taken hard hitting to a new level. These players are famous to take the game away from opposition in matter of just few overs and win matches singlehandedly.

 

Another batsman, who changed the face of limited-overs format was Australia’s Michael Bevan. Although he made his One-Day International debut in 1994, he rose to the peak of his career in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was probably the first player to be labelled as the ‘finisher’, i.e. a batsman who was there till the match was over. He is the only batsman with 6000 or more runs to have a batting average of more than 50.

 

He started the trend of batting through the innings, especially when batting second. He inspired players the likes of Michael Hussey, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, who do similar job for their teams.

 

After the advent of T20, the game is seeing more innovations than ever before. In last couple of years or so, few new shots have been added to the cricketing manuals. Tillakaratne Dilshan has come up with a shot that is popularly called the ‘dilscoop’, named after Dilshan. Similarly, Kevin Pietersen gave ‘switch hit’ to cricket.

 

Although these shots had been criticized initially and their legality was debated, they are used extensively today, especially in overs-limit formats.

 

With all these innovations, cricket has got a complete makeover, thanks to these players who have revolutionized the game. Cricket is still evolving. And how! There are certainly more shots waiting to be invented, more styles of batting to be discovered, so bowlers are going to have a real hard time.

 

(Vipul Deshpande, a 2nd year student of Mass Media, is passionate about cricket and a huge fan of Sachin Tendulkar)