When Mushtaq Mohammad, the former right handed Pakistani player who represented Northamptonshire in English country cricket, happened to play the reverse sweep for the very first time during a match against Middlesex, it would hardly have occurred to him that his innovation would go on to become a potent weapon in the arsenal of modern day batsmen. It was a time when cricket was yet to explore the possibilities of limited overs cricket and unorthodoxy was not celebrated.But even with the advent of swashbuckling sloggers and T20 cricket being hailed as the next benchmark of greatness,
But even with the advent of swashbuckling sloggers and T20 cricket being hailed as the next benchmark of greatness, The Virat Jab, as some would call it, found itself being replayed over and over again, much to the delight of fans and experts alike. In the recently concluded first One Day International against England that saw India registering another brilliant win, with both Jadhav and Kohli hitting centuries, this shot that the latter played, continued to do the rounds long after the match was over.
What was special about the Virat Jab?
While The Virat Jab did not exude the devastating prowess of a Gayle, who makes use of raw power and sheer unorthodoxy in technique to play the shots that he does, it was a shot that not many among his own contemporaries would have dared to play.
In what was a waist high short ball from Chris Woakes, who also happened to bowl this one slow at just over a 120 kmph, Virat Kohli stayed deep in the crease and played a high elbow to generate a shot over wide mid-on. Incidentally, not only did he play an unconventional shot but also happened to hit it towards what is also known as the cow corner in traditional cricketing terminology, pertaining to the fact that there are hardly any shots played in that direction, allowing strays to graze in there.
One could have thought of several different ways of playing that ball — a certain AB de Villiers from South Africa may even have scooped it over the boundary a maximum for all we know! — But this shot was far different from the any of the many that have found their way since invention became a necessity in the shorter formats of the game. And with only a nonchalant smile that followed, one could not help but wonder if the man belonged to this place.
A Method to the Madness
A lot of cricketers in recent times have resorted to curious looking shots in their search for quick runs, and in the process, have left the traditionalists far behind in terms of cricketing technique. But unlike most of his fellow men, run-machine Kohli has been able to play it on his own terms with proper cricketing shots on display. And as his strike-rate may easily suggest, one does not always need unorthodoxy to destroy the opposition bowling.
The Virat Jab was a shot that he could attempt because of the technique that he reassuringly seems to possess. When he stayed on the backfoot, and played the short arm jab that he did without losing any of his balance, it only went on to establish how a sound technique can still get you the runs, no matter what the format is.
When Kohli plays this shot again, and he will, expect a thunderous roar from the commentary box with words that resonate,
“…and that’s the Virat Jab swiftly played.”