For many traditional sports fans, cricket is more a religion than a pastime. In India, the game has never been more popular – well, to be more precise, a new form of the game called Twenty20 (20 overs per side, lots of scoring and a lot of entertainment crammed into a few short hours) has appealed to millions of fans. To match the game’s evolution, a new form of cricket bat has appeared - the Mongoose MMi3. The new bat lit up the world scene a couple of nights ago in the hands of one of world cricket’s hardest hitting batsmen - Australia’s Matthew Hayden. He clubbed 93 runs from 43 balls.

In a game that hasn’t undergone too many changes in its 200+ year history, the Mongoose MMi3 short-bladed bat’s makers say the it is poised to rewrite record books in the same way that titanium-headed drivers and graphite rackets revolutionized golf and tennis.

At first glance resembling an oar or paddle with its long handle and shorter blade, the Mongoose MMi3 promises of 15 percent more bat speed and 20 percent more power than a conventional bat. It conforms to MCC Laws that govern the world’s second most popular sport, has a “sweet spot” twice the size of a conventional bat and thick edges from shoulder to toe. Most significantly, it promises more runs for everyone – and doom and gloom for bowlers.

Debuted last year at England's home of cricket, Lord's, the bat didn't make the same fanfare in the hands of Stuart Law as it did in India two nights ago. Hayden put the bat to the test and it came up trumps.

For the uninitiated, cricket is a bat-and-ball team sport that is first documented as being played in southern England in the 16th century and has become the national game of England and India. It is played by 104 member countries including Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Bangladesh, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Even Canada and Ireland field teams in Cricket’s 50-over World Cup. Cricket is the world’s second most popular sport behind soccer.

The traditional form of the game, Test cricket, is played for six hours a day over five days and may not always end in a result. This format has waned in its appeal to this generation and a shorter 50-over game has been almost replaced by an even shorter 20 overs per side game. This action-packed version has flourished around the world, especially in India, which has its own T20 league featuring eight teams which comprise local and international stars.

Two new teams are being added to the league next year. The franchises recently sold for US$375 million and US$333 million respectively.

So Hayden’s debut of the new bat is certainly big news in many parts of the world. After adjusting to the speed of the pitch and the conditions, Hayden swapped from a standard bat to the Mongoose and set about virtually destroying the bowling attack by the opposition in a display of power and stroke-making, aided by the bat’s dynamics.

The Mongoose MMi3 makers say the traditional bat dimensions have been dispensed with. The shorter, more rigid blade has been teamed with a longer, more flexible handle to offer increased power, faster bat speed and better maneuverability. The splice is incorporated into the Mmi3’s handle to remove any dead spot from the hitting area and the shoulders have been reconfigured to add weight to the back of the blade.

It will be interesting to witness in the ensuing days and weeks how the Mongoose MMi3 reacts in the hands of other premier batsmen who have been trialing the new-style bat in practice sessions.

One thing's for sure, cricket fans of T20 love its addition to the game.

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