IPL 2024: Need to be really smart as a batting unit in preparing for two-bouncer rule, says Vijay Shankar

The T20 has majorly been a batter-friendly format with bowlers allowed only one bouncer to bowl in an over.

Ahmedabad, March 30 (IANS) The T20 has majorly been a batter-friendly format with bowlers allowed only one bouncer to bowl in an over. But things have changed in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, with bowlers now allowed to bowl two bouncers per over, following a successful trial in the 2023/24 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

Vijay Shankar, the Gujarat Titans’ all-rounder, believes the new rule is a very tricky one for the batters, adding that the side’s batting department has to be really smart in preparing for facing bouncers at any given point in an over.

“It has actually been a very tricky one – as a bowler, you can’t keep bowling that (bouncers). As a batter, if you set up and hit one or two (boundaries), then for a bowler to actually go to another plan is not easy. As a bowler, one has to use that in the right way. There are a few grounds in India which are really big in terms of square boundaries and on those venues, every fast-bowler will use bouncers.”

“It is just about handling those things; we are practising so hard and have to prepare for everything. When you walk in, you just have to react to whatever is bowled towards you, which is a good challenge actually.”

“Usually, after the first bouncer is bowled, as a batter, you then become ready to hit the stripes. Now it is that anytime the bouncer can be bowled, or they can even use a slower bouncer. So, we need to be really smart as a batting unit and be prepared about the different kinds of deliveries one can face in a game,” said Shankar while replying to a query from IANS in a virtual press conference organised by the franchise.

Gujarat Titans, the IPL 2022 winners, have a new captain in Shubman Gill and Shankar thinks there hasn’t been much difference in the team’s functioning after previous skipper Hardik Pandya moved to Mumbai Indians, adding the young opener has done well as a leader so far.

“Honestly, I don’t see a big difference because as players, when you get your role clarity from the support staff, management, and even the captain, it actually becomes very simple. You just have to go out there and do what is expected of you. Last two years, it was Hardik and now it’s Shubman, so there’s been no difference actually.”

“In the first two games, there was really not much of a difference. The first game went really close, and we were able to pull things back. In the second, they (CSK) batted really well, and it became a tough game for us. But then, as a captain, it is about backing the players and he’s doing that really well,” he added.

It is still early days in the competition for Shankar, who made 301 runs in 14 games, with an average of 37.63 and strike-rate of 160.11 in GT’s runners-up finish in IPL 2023. He puts down his renewed success in the bat in the IPL to his ability to adapt well as per the needs of the side. “If you see the first game, I batted at number six, and in the second, I batted at number four. For me, it is about adapting to different situations because it is not easy for a player to keep playing up and down, but that is what is expected of me.”

“Even last year, I batted at different batting positions and was able to do well for the team. It’s not about where I bat; it’s about whether I can adapt myself in a given situation and if I can take the team to a good position. If I can help the team win or two from there, then it will be the best thing for me.”

“If I am batting at number four, five, six, and seven, then you have to be flexible about adapting your batting in different situations. It’s been very clear here and also, even last year, it was like this. In the game against RCB, I batted at number three and then in qualifiers, I batted at number six and seven.”

“It is all about adapting myself and giving my best to the team. Someone has to do that role and I am very happy to adapt to different situations and conditions for the team’s needs, which is the most important thing at the end of the day,” he elaborated.

After GT’s six-run win over MI in their tournament opener at Ahmedabad, left-arm spinner R. Sai Kishore hailed the team culture established under head coach Ashish Nehra, where competing and staying in the game without being worried about the outcome has been the mantra.

Shankar echoed the same views, pointing out how players being treated equally in the GT camp has made the entire unit secure, leading them to put their best foot forward in every outing. “Honestly, it has been one of the best team environments in terms of everything. The way Ashish Nehra deals with every individual in the team is actually so heartening to see because it’s not easy to give importance to every individual on the side.”

“When a practice session goes for almost five to six hours, which is very rare, every individual gets their opportunity and are treated equally in this team. We have the captain, senior players, as well as players who have just now come into IPL – but if you see in the dressing room, all are treated equally. So, that’s the best thing about this team for the last three years.”

“When you win, yes definitely, everything will look good. But it’s also about taking care of other things – like our own cricket because the work ethic put in and the way he handles every individual in this team – treating them equally – is the best thing as no one feels insecure here and everyone feels it’s a safe place to be in, which is very important in a tournament like IPL,” he said.



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