New Delhi: Some time back this format was blasphemous for the purists. It was anything but cricket. Two good years have passed and Twenty20 has now been accepted as a format of the game. And there are good reasons for that.
At the advent of Twenty20 cricket, it was all about trying to send every ball out of the ground. Now things have changed, and changed for the better. The batsmen no longer start slogging from the first ball and bowlers no longer act like bowling machines.
We had seen in the first edition of the T20 World Championship in 2007, how MS Dhoni shuffled the bowlers and changed the plans. Strategies were made and executed to perfection.
T20 cricket went to another level when the BCCI-backed Indian Premier League came into existence. Masters of the game collaborated to bring the best out of themselves, the rookies and most importantly the game itself.
The second edition of the IPL that concluded recently in South Africa, highlighted the game's progress. Players came up with new innovative shots. I cannot recollect cricketers playing shots like peddle sweep, scoop shot in abundance during the ODIs and Tests. Spinners who were initially thought to be easy prey for the hitters, have now become the strengths of a side.
I personally enjoy Test matches more than any other format of the game but at the same time I respect the other two formats as well. Contrary to what many conventionalists think, the new formats of the game have helped Test cricket survive in this fast-food era.
If you compare the run rates in Test cricket over the decades, you will find that they have improved after one-day cricket became popular. Twenty20 too will benefit the game. Of course excess of anything and everything is fatal.
Puritans always had their notions - when Test cricket was shortened from six to five days; when one-day cricket was introduced; and even when Twenty20 was born. But what's more important is that the game has survived and survived beautifully and successfully.