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Left could just be right

S. Dinakar



LEFTIES CONFERENCE: With left-handers striking it rich in ODIs, John Wright and Sourav Ganguly must surely have interesting tidbits to share. — Photo: AP

Chennai: Adam Gilchrist's strike-rate of 96.29 is the highest among all batsmen with 5,000 or more runs in one-day internationals. The left-hander now has 8,585 runs from 257 ODIs at 35.62 (14 hundreds).

If Australia is a mean batting machine, then Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden at the top and Michael Hussey, all left-handers, in the middle-order don key roles; Gilchrist and Hayden fire in the Power Play overs, Hussey is the finisher.

Teams with a fair mix of right and left-handed batsmen are generally harder to bowl at. The bowlers have to both alter their line and adjust their lengths. The fielders too may have to shift positions; this can be extremely unsettling especially when the pressure mounts.

Scoring options

Sides that have the southpaws strategically placed in the top and middle-order have more scoring options. India has Sourav Ganguly in a left-right opening combination and Yuvraj Singh in the middle-order. The team-management has also used Irfan Pathan at the No. 3 slot.

Pacemen who take the ball away from a right-hander, often struggle against the southpaw, straying down leg-side. If the pitch offers spin, then a left-hander is better suited against a left-arm spinner or a leggie. The off-spinner, unless the bowler delivers a doosra, can be struck with the spin by a right-hander.

Team-managements strive to manage their batting, although this could depend on selection. The Pakistani line-up, for instance, does not have a single specialist left-handed batsman.

Formidable array

The West Indian line-up includes a formidable array of left-handers, Brian Lara, Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The aggressive Devon Smith is another option.

The Lankans possess Sanath Jayasuriya at the top. The free-stroking Upul Tharanga, another left-hander, could partner him. The technically well-equipped Kumar Sangakarra is an outstanding left-hander in either offence or defence. Russell Arnold, on a comeback, is a hard-runner, who can cleverly work the ball through the gaps.

Ideal combination

South Africa has an ideal opening combination of the left-handed Graeme Smith and the right-handed Abraham de Villiers. Then there is Ashwell Prince, a tenacious southpaw, in the middle-order.

England could have Ed Joyce at the top of the order and Andrew Strauss at No. 3. New Zealand has the experience and class of skipper Stephen Fleming — he forms a viable left-right opening force with Lou Vincent — and the hugely influential Jacob Oram in late middle-order.

Left could be just right in the Caribbean.

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