Monday, October 3, 2022

Jasprit Bumrah’s pull in Stuart Broad record brings back memories of Kapil Dev’s Natraj

Jasprit Bumrah’s most breathtaking shot in the mayhem over, in which he conceded 29 off 35 against Stuart Broad, breaking the world record for most runs in a single over in a Test, was a marvelous pull. The front leg swung up in the air, and it brought up memories of three magnificent bridges, somewhat similar. The soul of the shots was the flamboyant upward thrust of the front foot and the personality of what happens next. We also see the very opposite version of Sachin Tendulkar.

Kapil Dev’s Nataraja shot

The takeaway of Kapil’s signature shot was not a sense of brutality, but a wildly beautiful thing. There was no violence, like most pull shots can often be.

No wonder Hindu KR Mohan instinctively felt something classical in it and named the shot ‘Nataraja’ from Lord Shiva’s cosmic dance of creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe. Shiva’s Bhujangatrasita Karana dance pose is a thing of grace – and perfectly suited for a cricket shot that fills with grace even after a ball is smashed.

Jasprit Bumrah's pull in Stuart Broad record brings back memories of Kapil Dev's Natraj The takeaway of Kapil’s signature shot was not a sense of brutality, but a wildly beautiful thing. (Twitter)

When he saw Kapil being pulled up, Mohan’s mind immediately went to Nataraja’s idols. “At home we would have so many idols of Nataraja. Look, the pose and the pull shot of Kapil were identical, his left leg was in the air,” Mohan told this newspaper.

No Kapil mix-tape could escape that shot. An exhilarating kick from the left foot allows him to balance his weight on the back, and arms fully up the ball to the wall. The key difference from Bumrah’s version was that Kapil used to kick his front leg across the body but the shots were quite similar in essence. At times, Rohit Sharma would settle in the Nataraja lift like Kapil (Kapil even called it the best Nataraja version he has seen after himself), but Rohit was not as often and wildly daring as Kapil.

Gordon Greenidge’s Open Version

The first instinct when Bumrah finished his swinging pull at fine leg was to think of Gordon Greenidge’s version. No batsman has cut the ball harder than the West Indian opener. But he also had a very mean vibe.

To quote the late Martin Crowe, right after Grendij amputated his back leg, who was still in awe of that shot decades later, “all kinds of things would happen.”

“First, the knee will come straight up into the abdomen. And that will give him balance and the power to take the hell out of the short ball,” Crowe once told ESPNcricinfo. “Boof! I’ve never seen a ball hit so hard.” And Crowe went on to say that the next time he saw that shot Brian Lara impressed his own version of it. “I think Lara copied that.” If Kapil maintains grace with his Nataraja, Greenidge creates havoc with his version.

Brian Lara’s Whiplash Version

Once Crowe presents his lineage from Greenidge to Lara, it’s hard to ignore. But the key difference lies in how Lara completely shattered that little round thing.

Press back, leg lift and then the dance started. No one has used the bat so fluidly as Lara has shed the weight with his fanfare. From that position, with his front leg elevated and across his hip, he would hit his bat at the short ball – like a crack of doom. A ballistic movement of the legs and upper body, before she seals it with a wondrous fluid swing of wood.

What about Sachin Tendulkar’s pull?

It wasn’t Natraj, but Tendulkar was never going to allow himself such self-sacrificing flair, was he?

Tendulkar’s pull shot was a thing of purist beauty. The compactness is astonishing. He almost took and controlled the shot, known for the violence inherent in the thought and vision. The bat kicks straight back, it comes almost straight down, and the elbow perfectly helps to finish the shot in a tight arc of arm motion. No energy is wasted. The body does not bend too much, the head does not move … there is no unnecessary movement. Every little movement fits comfortably.

If only Fanny de Villiers and his captain Hansie Cronje hadn’t been plotting a fall at short midwicket, and to a lesser extent Chaminda Vaas and Arjuna Ranatunga, one wonders whether Tendulkar would have allowed himself more runs with that shot. For a while, he was almost obsessed with that shot and when his obsession became a tool to trap him, he ruthlessly abandoned it. It was at this point that Tendulkar, whose batting had a mix of Gavaskar and Richards, started leaving behind Richards’ personality and went Gavaskar’s way.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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