David Warner lunges; tries to use his reach to the fullest. No, he isn’t after a catch. He lunges with the bat in his hands; to put bat on ball. Yes, bat on ball. If not for this format, Basil Thampi’s wide delivery would have invoked little reaction; but at this time of the year most of the conventions are broken to smithereens.
Never mind the unappealing inauguration ceremony and dance moves, IPL has well and truly kick started. No runway, no warm ups. IPL has taken off. Just like that. From the outset, missiles are fired.
With a subdued RCB unit, sans Kohli and ABD, taking field, a relatively sedate start to the IPL was on the cards. SRH though took little sympathy to RCB, which offered no resistance; but the match wasn’t short of any fireworks as the old guard took to the stage.
Yuvraj Singh unleashed his older self. He pulled and whipped with finesse. The bat swing was all fine, follow through even better. In simple words, he was sublime. If it is a sign of things to come, he alone can lit this IPL and make it his own, with his bullish swag and luscious grace.
If Yuvraj Singh carries a nostalgic sense, Steve Smith carries an aura of invincibility with him nowadays. We are now familiar with his methods and runs. We are now familiar with his movements and the queer positions he takes at the crease. With some, familiarity bores but with Smith it is different. He amazes. His shot making refreshes senses. Smith’s consistency has a pleasing touch to it.
He went unsold in the initial round, to reasons known to few. But once bought, few reserved doubts if he could leave a mark. At Pune, Butler and Parthiv got Mumbai off to flying start. Steve Smith very soon turned to Imran Tahir. He ran through the top order. All in two overs, Tahir had Parthiv, Butler and Rohit. One moment we saw him bowling, the next moment we saw him running. Now he was bowling; then he was running. Imran Tahir was flying. Imran Tahir had arrived!
The offside ring is packed. The onside boundary is well guarded. So, he makes some room for himself. But Brathwaite follows him. Now it’s too close to his body to go aerial through covers. He has little time and space. But the use of the wrists, and the flow of the bat is exemplary. Off she goes over the ropes. A six through covers. An air of nonchalance is attached to Kedar Jadhav’s game. He backs himself to go big. His 69 at Bengaluru was of some class, well above the rest.
In two innings, he hit 9 sixes. He cared little of the leather ball that came his way. It came quick, but went quicker. He whacked and swatted with disdain. But even as the sound of the ball hitting Chris Lynn’s bat is still reverberating in our ears, it now seems he has already played his part this IPL, thanks to his unfortunate shoulder injury. It is a shame that Lynn will be out of action. IPL would have grown richer otherwise.
It is slow, and it is wide. A substantial distance between the ball and the batsman is formed. AB de Villiers is already down the pitch. He throws himself to the alluding ball, and makes a decent connection. There are batsmen who wouldn’t reach it; then there those who would have just managed to put bat on ball. Then there is ABD. He reaches, he connects. A decent ‘ABD connection’ is enough to take it over the ropes. Not for nothing crowd chants his name, not for nothing world waits to see him bat.
Rashid Khan was auctioned. Rashid Khan was picked. Rashid Khan made headlines. Rashid Khan became the story - of Afghanistan cricket and that of world cricket. He went from a base price of 50 lakhs to 4 crores – Who is Rashid Khan? Rashid Khan hadn’t yet bowled a ball.
Over fifty days later, Rashid Khan comes on to bowl. First over, he strikes. Second over, he strikes. Third over, he strikes again. McCullum, Raina and Finch fall prey. A couple of days later, he puts on the purple cap. Who is Rashid Khan? Rashid Khan, from Afghanistan – he is a story.
There is action, there is drama, and there is noise. It is all crowded. People are jumping out of their seats, batsmen are hitting out of their creases. Mostly the big slogs, agricultural scoops, and brutal power run the show. Amidst all this a calm head pops out. Innocent face, gentle smile and a very few words. Sanju Samson it is – caressing his cover drives and square drives with panache. No noise, no rush of blood.
Sanju Samson is batting, Rahul Dravid is watching, and the IPL is blooming.
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