Washington Sundar throws a ball that is difficult. When he gets it right, it is not enough to play a lofted drive against him, and not enough to cut or pull. He will look at your feet and follow your line, so you are unlikely to go all over the room, and he bowls quickly, so it is not easy to step against him. He is tall and bowls with a high-arm action, so he can bounce the ball fairly quickly.
He’s not easy to sweep either, but if you can get into position quickly, and if you have access, you can play the shot. You might not get over the ball and keep it down, but sometimes it doesn’t matter. Like Sundar’s first over on Saturday against Rajasthan Royals. He was bowling within the powerplay, and he could only return two fielders. Those two fielders were on long and deep midwicket.
Looking at that area, if Robin Uthappa could pull it off, it was a productive shot and he did it three times in place of five balls. There was a bad ball, sliding down from the leg side, but the other two were pretty good, one short of the actual sweeping length and the finishing inside the stumps. But the shortness helped Uthappa, adjusting to him on a slow pitch, and pulling the ball over one knee, over the top and back square leg.
Yuzvendra Chahal had figures of 3–0–16–2 when he started the 18th over of the Royals innings. Like most spinners, Chahal placed his four boundary fielders in front of the wicket and struck a fifth out at the leg-side boundary for a sweep. Third man and backward point were inside the circle.
Almost spinner is With those two fielders in the ring to bowl, so if you are a right-handed batsman who can play reverse-sweep, there is usually a big field that you can target if you can pull it off.
Chahal was struck by Steven Smith twice in the over. The first was an off stumpish ball, which landed at a length that allowed Smith to move under the ball and hit it at the overward point. The second was more difficult; Chahal expected a shot from Smith and completed it at leg stump. Somehow, Smith turned it upside down and beat his right back.
According to ESPNcricinfo statistics, through his innings, the traditional varieties of sweeps – traditional, paddle, slog, reverse – gave the Royals batsmen 25 off 11 balls against the spinners of Royal Challengers Bangalore. His innings set a new record for the season in terms of most sweeps of any type played against spin, and most runs from that shot. Set during their last meeting with the Royal Challengers, the Royals beat their own record.
The Royal Challengers had just two sweeps in the chase, even though they faced more overs than the Royals batsmen. Virat Kohli is not known for sweeping too much, and Devdutt Padikkal – new at this stage of the game – does not appear to be proficient, especially in that shot. The lack of a sweep in their respective performances certainly contributed to their struggle to find a boundary on a slow pitch – they hit only three fours and two sixes in 69 balls, and the opposite game between the two teams in this one aspect was another day. Could prove to be decisive. On this day, AB de Villiers came to the crease and tore the script.
Although it did not win them here, the Royals’ sweep and use of its variants were a useful reminder to every other team in the IPL that this shot exists and can be used the most.
Pitches in the UAE, which used to trigger the bat at the start of the tournament, are now slowing down. They will only slow down further, and possibly even introduce more turns. Spinners can increase the increasing ratio of overs as it happens, and hitting the bottom of the field can become a challenge. After all of these processes unfold, the sweep can become an impressively impressive shot.