Cricket is a numbers game. While other sports too depend on numbers, nothing comes close to the amount of dependency the cricketers has these days.
While some batters purely depend on the instincts, there are a few who sit with the analyst, read the weakness and the strengths of the batters and go accordingly.
Among the Indian modern-day players, Rohit Sharma loves approaching the match through numbers. Especially, when it comes to his batting.
Among Root and Paine, the latter depends on the numbers more and why do you think he brought Lyon when Strokes was on strike?
That doesn’t mean Root hates numbers. Early in the innings, for Bancroft, there were three fielders on the leg side boundary.
There were few more occasion where Root followed the stats.
Nevertheless, Nobody loves the numbers better than England duos Anderson and Broad. They keep a record on everything right from the extras to the deliveries they need to bowl for the particular batter. They were able to overcome every single player’s challenge except for Smith. ‘Get that damn Smith out’ plan wasn’t working.
Steve Smith nullified all the efforts. According to the stats, the fifth-stump line was his “weakness”. When bowled there, Smith moved across this time to play and found the gap through the point and through the covers.
Short Leg for the bouncers but Smith made sure to either leave it or to hit it down the ground. In one of the Test matches, Dhoni asked his bowlers to keep bowling bouncers towards the leg side. After a while, Smith edged it to Dhoni. Guess, Root watched that footage as well and made his bowlers bowl there, but the ball was rising towards the boundary.
Pitching it up was another wise choice made by Broad, but Smith’s hunger for runs nullified it as well. However, Broad went on to dismiss his partners.
Smith looked comfortable with every single delivery he faced, and Root did whatever he can. He changed the bowlers, changed the fielders, but the runs still kept flowing. Even a beamer from Ali, a bouncer that knocked his head couldn’t dismiss him. Smith batted as if he is facing the bowling machine with no one around. He was middling most of the deliveries.
Hours later, Root had to go back to Plan A after finishing all the other 25 alphabets. ‘Get the damn Smith out’ was written all over it. Plan A was to bowl a delivery that goes away. The delivery that would tempt Smith to drive. The delivery that is on the fourth or fifth stump. Woakes executed it right, and Smith finally let his guard down after hitting 144. This probably is the line that has got him out a lot of times, but the determination he had on that day was phenomenal. This is what Smith is all about. He rises to the occasion. His mental strength is something that is beyond words. The self-belief he possesses is better than other players. This is what makes Smith one of the best batters in the world, if not the best in the Red ball cricket.
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