From players featuring in all three formats being hailed as versatile, cricket is slowly moving towards specialists, especially in Twenty20 considering the pace at which it is expanding and evolving.
India skipper Virat Kohli and the Kiwi skipper of Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kane Williamson, are batsmen who wear the versatile tag lightly. They switch formats smoothly and emphasise that playing conventional shots need not hold them back from dominating in T20, especially in Indian Premier League.
Delhi Daredevils’ young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant though provided the latest example that putting on a show to go wth hitting is the name of the T20 game, especially in a glitzy tournament like IPL.
On Saturday, though Delhi Daredevils were out of reckoning for a playoffs spot, the Feroz Shah Kotla ground was packed for the clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the hope that batsmen from either side would come to the party.
Pant did after RCB skipper Kohli elected to bowl. Experts feel the 20-year-old left-hander – who has played four T20s for India but has a top score of only 38 — needs to get consistent to break into the national side.
The youngster smashed a 34-ball 61 to go with his 128 not out in the previous game against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday – the highest score of IPL 2018 though in a losing cause – to show consistency is something he is working on.
But it was how he hit that showed, with IPL and other T20 leagues pushing the boundary, the game has shifted gear and batsmen are hitting and meeting the style quotient.
With Pant, it was using the depth of the crease to put bowlers off their stride and getting under deliveries to hoist them straight. On Thursday, his ramp shots and reverse scoops stood out in the century.
Abhishek Sharma, the U-19 World Cup player from Punjab making his IPL debut at 17, was a picture of calm as he stood and delivered a 19-ball 46 not out.
Already England players are happy to restrict themselves to white-ball cricket, and their West Indies counterparts led by Chris Gayle are pioneers of global T20 leagues.
England’s Jos Buttler said in an interview during IPL 2018 that players must shed the “snobbery” that they want to play in all three formats. That approach means it may also get tougher to get players like Pant and Abhishek, with that T20 swagger, to wait to play for country and not take the club route.