How the rain break helped Shaheen Shah Afridi dismantle India's top-order

The first rain break did wonders for Pakistan, for it helped them rectify their mistakes.
Shaheen Shah Afridi is an amazing bowler.?width=963&height=541&resizemode=4
While the deck had enough for the speedsters, this should take away nothing from Shaheen Shah Afridi.

The first rain break did wonders for Pakistan, for it helped them rectify their mistakes. It’s not that the Pakistani pacers weren’t bowling well before that rain interruption, but their plans weren’t ideal. Such is the class of these pacers that they were quick to change them and hit the right areas.

Blaming Rohit Sharma entirely for his dismissal would be harsh, as he could barely do anything to counter a fire-breathing Shaheen Shah Afridi. Shaheen started the innings with his fuller-length deliveries targeting the stumps like he always does. The pre-game buzz focused on those inswinging yorkers by Shaheen Afridi, and when Rohit Sharma chose to bat first in overcast conditions, the threat increased further.

To Rohit’s credit, he was up for the challenge this time. He took a leg stump guard to take LBW out of the equation. Rohit successfully countered Shaheen’s early bolts with positive intent and looked settled.

The deck was two-paced with uneven bounce but notably had significant seam movement. It’s not that it wasn’t swinging, but the movement after pitching was more conspicuous and threatening. While the fuller ones were troubled Rohit sometimes, they weren’t going to dismiss him.

Around 60% of deliveries before the break were bowled on the full length by Shaheen. However, the break helped him introspect, and he changed his plans immediately. After bowling one very ahead, Shaheen shortened his length and bowled a back-of-a-length delivery to generate seam movement as the ball moved away after landing.

The next one was slightly fuller but not close to a half-volley outside the off stump, and it again seamed away more than the previous one. Rohit poked but missed the edge due to that significant movement. Two things were certain after this beauty - Shaheen was now in flow, and the next ball would come in.

Everyone, including the batter, knew that it would come in, but such is the quality of Shaheen that despite knowing Rohit couldn’t do anything. He again bowled on a similar length and made the ball come into the batter. Rohit tried to defend, but that hint of an inward movement was enough to take the ball past the inside edge.

Everything about that delivery was perfect. Indecisive length, immaculate line, and precise movement - that ball had everything. Despite doing most things right before that delivery, Rohit Sharma had to depart on 11.

Also Read: Virat Kohli's epic reaction to Shaheen cleaning up Rohit Sharma goes viral; WATCH VIDEO

The plans were similar for Virat Kohli, who had also come in with a positive mindset. Virat Kohli had just hit a vintage cover drive off Naseem Shah in the previous over and looked in the aggressive mode.

Shaheen had found his length and was hitting the deck hard to extract seam movement. First, he bowled a short of a length outside off stump, to which Virat Kohli left watchfully. However, the next one showed why India should have opted to field on that track.

Shaheen delivered a back-of-a-length ball outside the off stump, and Virat tried to steer it towards the third man for a single. However, the ball came slower than Virat anticipated, and as the surface had an uneven bounce, as discussed earlier, the ball also kept a touch low.

Virat pressed forward, only to get an inside edge to dismantle the stumps. The only fault Virat made was probably that front foot press, but he will play it with the same technique every time. This dismissal was largely due to that surface in Pallekele.

The rain interruption came as a boon for Shaheen and co. as they ripped through the Indian top order. Shaheen showed his class again, and history repeated itself. While the deck had enough for the speedsters, this should take away nothing from Shaheen Shah Afridi.

Utilising the conditions is not everyone’s cup of tea, but for Shaheen, the conditions were tailor-made to wreak havoc. Not every day does the surface generate as significant seam movement as today in white-ball cricket. When it does, the pacers should make sure to exploit it like Shaheen Shah Afridi did today.

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