You are batting in a run chase and the run rate is gradually creeping up. The opposition are bowling well and you start to think you need a 'get out' boundary. How do you know when to go for it?
It's not always going to be as simple as waiting for the half volley, especially in shorter games where every dot ball means increased pressure. One person who mastered the run chase was Michael Bevan who always seemed to guide the Australian one-day team home. While it's virtually impossible to copy his technical and skill levels, you can copy some of his tactics to get yourself out of a batting hole
1. Take the runs on offer
If mid-on and mid-off are set back why not push the ball to them and take the single? You can easily claim 6 an over in singles. Depending on the rate, you may not need more than this to see you over the line.
2. Rotate the strike
There are always gaps to exploit; even if the field is set to save singles and you are struggling to hit boundaries. Look for the poor fielders and target them by running hard. You can also nudge the ball rather than strike it hard to play tip-and-run. This may force the in-fielders too close allowing you to beat them with an orthodox stroke to the boundary.
3. Decide the risk level
How quickly do you really need to score to stay up with the rate? You may be able to play in an orthodox way and still score reasonably quickly. However, if you need a boundary you might need to do something less sensible in the race for runs.
Nevertheless, higher risk does not mean slogging. The first option is usually to hit down the ground with the full face of the bat. If that isn't working you can go with the movement hitting in a wider arc; for example against the off-spinner you can open up and hit over midwicket or close the face hitting through square leg. The final option is sweeping, slog sweeping or clearing the front leg. Each option increases risk but also increases the chance of a boundary.
4. Keep your shape
Technique is all important even when hitting out. Even in the direst situation, slogging is not going to get you very far. The important elements are to stay well balanced and to align your body to the angle you want to hit the ball. The big hitters in international cricket, such as Yuvraj, do this very well.
5. Stay cool
Psychologically, batting in a chase is about staying calm under pressure. If you panic and start trying to hit every ball you are setting yourself up to fail. The solution is to know when you need a boundary and decide where the best place is to hit it. Once you have pulled off the shot, it's worth getting yourself off strike by taking a single. This will help you calm down while also scoring 5 in a couple of balls.
image credit: Gary_T_W