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Woakes relishes final-over scraps

Chris Woakes acknowledged IPL's importance in his growth as a death-overs bowler
Chris Woakes acknowledged IPL's importance in his growth as a death-overs bowler © Getty
Chris Woakes said he was relishing bowling at the business end of limited-over games, where the dynamics of a game can swing violently from end to the other. Having emerged as Eoin Morgan's go-to death bowler in recent times, Woakes has made peace with the fact that the margins between being a hero or a 'zero' are fairly slim. In the ODI series opener against New Zealand in Hamilton, he finished at the wrong end of this balance as Mitchell Santner helped the hosts hunt down nine off the final over.
Woakes, who admitted that he would ideally like to play with at least 10 runs in the final over, began with a leg-stump yorker that was squirted away for four. A wide followed before Santner hit a half-volley for six to close out the game. The 28-year-old said it was imprudent to expect machine-like consistency while delivering nervy final overs.
"There have been times when you come through it and you bowl that last over and you're the hero," Woakes said. "There are other times when it goes against you. Unfortunately, it did.
"You try to put yourself in that mindset where it has gone well before and try and visualise it. But we aren't machines and sometimes you are going to slightly get it wrong. You do need a little bit of luck in those last overs. Had that first ball been dug out for a single or a dot, it completely changes the outlook on the rest of the over. It's just the way it goes," he added.
Woakes, who dismissed Colin Munro in Hamilton for his 100th ODI wicket, acknowledged IPL's role in his growth as a death-overs specialists. He cited his interactions with Laxmipathy Balaji for honing his skills with the change of pace deliveries. "I've tried to hide it a little bit for a while," Woakes said. "It's something I learned from the IPL, they hid it and from facing guys I always felt the more they hide it the harder it is to see those slower balls or changes of pace. That's something I've slowly worked on over time. I still have a lot to learn but I feel like I have got better.
"[Balaji] was very good at hiding the ball and he bowled in the nets off a few paces and you literally couldn't pick him. Sometimes you'll hide it and bowl a quicker one and sometimes a slower ball. It's all mind games."
The all-rounder now looks forward to sharing a dressing room with the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers at Royal Challengers Bangalore, who signed the Englishman for INR 7.4 crore ahead of the 2018 season.
"It will be interesting to see how Kohli goes about his business," he said. "He's a world-class player, one of the best if not the best in the white-ball game so that will be exciting to see how he goes about it. Obviously, you get a perception of a guy playing against them so to be in the same dressing-room as him, de Villiers - all these guys - it will be great to learn from them."

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