IPL 2017: How Rahul Tewatia made his dream debut for Kings XI Punjab
It is a clash of the titans at Mohali. The big hitters are plenty in number. Glenn Maxwell, Chris Lynn, Martin Guptill and Irfan Pathan can smash anything thrown at them. They are crowd gatherers and mass entertainers. For those who favour technique over power, enjoy the batting of purists like Gautam Gambhir, Shaun Marsh, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey. They ensure elegance is still a part of this power hitting game courtesy of their delightful stroke making.
In the bowling department, Umesh Yadav’s searing pace and Sandeep Sharma’s swing are a treat to watch. The overseas superstars Chris Woakes and Matt Henry are good with the ball too. But today at Mohali the spinners are in the lead role. The mystery man Sunil Narine, the chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and the calm yet effective Axar Patel are effective with their art of spin.
All these stars are on display at one place and at one time. Kings XI Punjab versus Kolkata Knight Riders, a contest worthy of entertainment.
Narine’s magic offers the perfect start to the game. He sends the openers back with his disciplined bowling. A beauty by Woakes breaks Marsh’s strong defence as well. KKR bowlers are doing what they do the best. They are drying out the runs and picking up wickets. Punjab are under pressure.
Next at the crease, the captain of Punjab, the maverick Maxwell. He starts cautiously by taking his time. He knows this is a must-win game for his side. They cannot afford a mistake. So he bats calmly.
And now he begins his onslaught, the Maxwell show. He smashes back to back sixes against Colin de Grandhomme. A drive and a pull are boosted with the trademark Maxwell power and the ball goes way back into the stands. Punjab earn the momentum.
Wriddhiman Saha joins his skipper in the big hitting. The fours continue. Punjab accumulate quick runs with Saha and Maxwell looking strong.
And Kuldeep is smashed into the mid-wicket region. Maxwell is on fire. Next ball, the Aussie goes for another slog. It is another six and that too in the same region. The Maxwell show at its prime. The bowler, though, has the last laugh as Maxwell aims three in three and finds Woakes at long off. He departs and KKR are back in the game.
Saha and Swapnil Singh follow Maxwell to the dugout in quick succession. KKR are chipping in with quiet overs at the death, forcing Punjab to lose out the momentum. With the star power back in the pavilion, Punjab are in deep trouble.
What was that? Importantly who was that? A wide yorker by Woakes and the new batsman reads it effectively. He goes deep and with an extension of his arms, he uses the pace and lofts it over cover for a four. Some shot this! Who’s this batsman?
Next ball, and what smartness! If the previous four was power and timing, this one is application and presence of mind. It is a short ball on the off stump. The batsman knows fine leg is inside the circle. He moves across, creates room and pulls it over fine leg’s head. Incredible shot. Incredible batting. Two balls, two fours, and Punjab’s score is elevated.
Last over. What a shot! Fullish ball outside off, in fact, way outside off and the batsman literally sweeps it to find the gap at square leg. This is brilliant execution. This left-hand batsman has got lovely wrists and an amazingly calm mind.
Punjab finish their inning on a high note. 18 runs came from the last ten balls. The last batsman displays a spectacular cameo. He scores fifteen important runs from only eight balls. Clean striking, effective batting. But who is he?
KKR openers come out and offer a perfect reply to this target. Narine and Lynn take off and give a blazing start. Narine’s gone but Lynn continues his fireworks. KKR are running away with this game. Lynn is smashing everything and Gambhir looks rock solid.
And suddenly the runs stop. The spinners are in the act now. They keep Lynn quiet and make Gambhir restless.
Here comes the leg spinner. Gambhir targets him and why shouldn’t he? He is Gautam Gambhir, one of the best players of spin around the world and the leggie is, well nobody knows who he is.
The leggie offers the ball some air, invites Gambhir for the big shot and Gambhir obliges. He goes for the wild slog. A powerful hit which sends the ball into the air and towards the boundary. But wait, it doesn’t reach the boundary. In fact, the ball is caught by the fielder at mid-wicket. Gambhir is gone. The leggie won the challenge! Who is this leggie?
Two wickets down for Kolkata and now at the crease is Robin Uthappa, KKR’s batting hero. He is in tremendous form and loves hitting the spinners.
His first ball is against the leg spinner. A slow delivery, another invitation for the batsman and although this is Uthappa’s first ball, he takes his chance. A slog, but it won’t reach the fence. It seems to fall short of the boundary but from nowhere Axar storms in and dives to snatch the ball cleanly in his hands.
Another wicket! Uthappa perishes as well. Two wickets in three balls and KKR are floored. The leg-spinner has brought Punjab right back in this game. This is phenomenal bowling. Who is this bowler?
He continues to bowl tidily. Neither Lynn nor Pandey are able to break free. He refrains from bowling loose deliveries and Punjab push KKR into a corner. By the time this bowler is done with his four overs, the required run rate climbs above 10 runs per over.
This is exceptional bowling from the newbie. His four overs yield only 18 runs, and he earns two wickets. This is game changing stuff. But who is he?
Among the star-studded teams, with plenty of superstars, this little-known Punjab player bats with the best strike rate and bowls with the best economy rate to produce the ultimate match-winning performance.
He is Rahul Tewatia.