Limited-overs professional cricket like One Day Internationals (ODI) and T20 cricket have a faster scoring rate compared to test cricket. Players look to hit maximum runs while batting first to ensure a bigger target.
When the innings approaches its end, batters try to score more aggressively. The run rate increases during the tail-end of the innings which features the death overs or slog overs. Death overs in T20 cricket are between the 15th and 20th over and in ODI cricket are between the 41st and the 50th over.
Death overs is a contest between specialist batters and bowlers. These batters are usually called ‘finishers’ for their ability to score faster to reach a target. ‘Death bowlers’ are the ones whose expertise lies in bowling lines and lengths that counter the finishers.
Bowlers who bowl the death overs are most often seam bowlers. Spin bowlers are usually not chosen for the death as they specialise in slowing down the run-rate in the middle overs. A yorker is the best weapon that a death bowler possesses. Such a ball does not give the batter any room to hit a shot. Moreover, since it’s targeted to the stumps, batters have to be cautious and precise in executing shots like scoop or ramp. Apart from the yorker, bowlers at the death can also choose to bowl legal deliveries wide outside the off stump. This makes it difficult for the batter to reach for the ball, thereby countering the offensive.
Death overs are a critical part of a limited overs game where a comparative analysis of the number of runs scored by each team can have a direct influence on the result.