Hardik Pandya show all the way; Parag bowls a carrom ball a la Ashwin & Kuldeep Sen learns of twists & turns of fate


Pandya stars as Gujarat Titans beat Rajasthan Royals by 37 runs in the newest western derby.

Shared News: April 15, 2022 7:06:26 am
Players exchange greeting after Gujarat Titans won the Indian Premier League 2022 match against Rajasthan Royals, at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai, Thursday, April 14, 2022 (Spotzpics/PTI Photo)

Kung fu Pandya 1 & 2 & 3 & the Hustle

In three hours, Hardik Pandya showed why India have eagerly awaited his return to the T20 team. And also why they sweat over his fitness. He changed the game with the bat, effected a game-turning direct hit, made spot-on captaincy moves with bowling changes. But he also picked up an injury and limped out of the game. After a wonderful 52-ball 87 he didn’t take the field for the first four overs.

Then marched in, flung that superb direct hit to run out Sanju Samson, bowled smartly, before a possible thigh strain made him walk off the field. There he sat in the dug out watching the replay of his injury moment on the big screen and had a smile. Was it rueful or all-is-well-don’t-worry smile? India would continue to salivate and sweat over this wonderful T20 cricketer.

– Sriram Veera

Shimron goes sha-la-la-la

Shimron Hetmeyer likes to dance. Never mind, he doesn’t have the moves but he seems to love shaking his hip. YouTube has couple of his dance videos, the memorable one was in 2019 when he is on top of a table swaying away in celebration of being picked up by Delhi Capitals for heavy bucks.

The happiest version, publicly available, though came tonight after Rassie van der Dusssen ran out Mathew Wade with a direct hit. Rassie was walking towards his captain but there came dancing Hetmeyer. Jiggling away like a school boy who has been just told by his teacher that school is half-day and he can go home to play. There was such gay abandon in his hop-and-skip routine that it’s worth more than just one look we got on live television. C’mon Star Sports, release a video, you got a viral clip on your hands.

– Sriram Veera

Summer reunions galore

It was a day of cricket camaraderie, in Mumbai and East Midlands. At DY Patil Stadium, Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Shami and Yuzvendra Chahal, the three India players, had a mini get-together before the start of their IPL game between Rajasthan Royals and Gujarat Titans. Pandya and Shami are the Titans captain and pace spearhead respectively. Chahal bowls leg-spin for Royals. Before the game though, it was the united colours of India. They hugged each other, cracked jokes and shared a good laugh.

Far afield at the County Ground in Derby, as Sussex were playing an away County fixture against Derbyshire, their two debutants, India’s Cheteshwar Pujara and Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan, were team-mates in arms and posed for a picture. The picture put out by Sussex Cricket on their Twitter handle had 15K likes by 7.30 pm India time. Their picture on ESPNcricinfo’s Twitter handle had one sharp response: “Divided by British, United by British”.

– Shamik Chakrabarty

Understudy overjoyed

Not just Ravi Ashwin, Riyan Parag too could bowl the carrom ball. As he did to deceive Shubman Gill. Parag’s first three balls were utter tripe—a full wide ball outside the off-stump that Hardik Pandya swooshed for a six down the ground with just a crisp swing of the bat, the second was full on his pads that he somehow managed to not hit the boundary and the fourth was a delicious half-tracker that Gill flicked imperiously for a four. Maybe, Parag was laying the charm offensive.

Gill, the moment he saw that the ball was tossed up, decided to send it to the upper tiers. But the ball, a bit slower than his slower balls, held the line after pitching. Gill was so committed to the stroke that he could not make any late adjustments. He went through with the shot and, fatally, mistimed it. Parag, understandably, was overjoyed and looked approvingly at Ashwin, who reciprocated with a happy nod and a pat on Parag’s shoulders.

– Sandip G

Not all same-same for Sen

It was only his second IPL game, but inside his first two overs, Kuldeep Sen experienced how fickle the game can be. After impressing one and all with his pace and potential on debut, the 25-year-old from Madhya Pradesh was brought on in the third over against Gujarat Titans. Vijay Shankar, batting at No. 3, didn’t know much about what he was up against. A flat-footed defensive prod was all he could manage as the ball barely missed the inside edge of the bat as well as the off-stump. Ironically, the dismissal came off a pretty ordinary delivery as the once-hailed “three-dimensional player” toe-ended a short and wide delivery on its way to wicketkeeper Sanju Samson.

But Sen’s next over must have taught him not to take anything for granted in this format. With the Powerplay towards its end, Titans captain Hardik Pandya decided to take matters into his own hands and give his side some momentum. A delivery on off-stump that almost came up to the batsman’s shoulder was swatted, like a forehand down the line in tennis, to the boundary. The next one offered width and was cut aerially, landing inches short of being six. Then, a blameless delivery on off-stump, which Pandya aimed to hit down the ground, took the edge and went to the third man fence. The rookie pacer, consistently clocking well above 140kmph was left wondering what wrong he had committed, and it prompted Rajasthan Royals skipper Samson to put an arm around him to reassure him that ‘it happens.’

– Tushar Bhaduri

Hardik’s big balance theory

Hardik Pandya has stripped hitting to its essence: balance, eyesight, fast hands, and hips. The feet are just used to swivel; they hardly go forward or back be it pace or spin. He stands with feet wide apart, leans forward or back with his knee-flex, and drives through his hips without a stride – a minimalistic explosion.

“I go really deep in my batting. [For me,] maintaining shape is more important,” is his batting philosophy. Pandya’s balance component has a few ingredients – the knee-flex that allows him to spring off from the balls of his feet, the subsequent postural-sway that allows a smooth transfer of weight and makes feet movement almost redundant, and the associated hip-turn that powers the bat to and through the contact zone. There are no unnecessary tiny foot movements that can upset balance, just the sway to shift the weight.

– Sriram Veera

Run of the Killer Miller

Even David Miller would have felt a wave of ennui splashing his mind when he saw that used-to-death epithet flash on the electronic scorecard. “Killer Miller” after he had smoked Kuldeep Sen down the ground for a trademark six. Yet, there must have been some suffocating nostalgia, a reminder of his powerful heyday, when he was considered among the cleanest hitters of fast bowling in the world.

The summers of 13 and 14, when he plundered 417 and 446 runs at a strike rate of 165 and 150. Long gone were those days, as Miller suddenly lost his knack of finding the sweetest spot of his bat. Thereafter, both his appearances and six-hitting prowess became sporadic. In 2015, he struck 21 sixes, in the next six editions combined he just managed 22. But suddenly, he looks like he has rediscovered the freedom of the game as well as the sweet spot of his bat. Accompanying the six were five boundaries—each flat and powerful, fleecing the ground towards the fence. They packed the leg-side to deny fours, it did not matter as the balls guillotined through the grass. And every time he struck a boundary, the same epithet flashed: “Killer Miller.” Maybe, by the end of the 14-ball 31, a strike rate of 221, the nostalgia those words brought might have turned warmer.

– Sandip G

Pandya’s sorry to Prasidh for streaky 4

This could have made people of Roy Keane’s ilk aghast. Apologies for drawing a football analogy, but the former Manchester United captain wasn’t amused when Harry Maguire and John Stones enjoyed a big hug and chatted after a Manchester derby two years ago. How Keane would have reacted to a batsman apologising to a bowler for hitting a streaky four was anybody’s guess, if he were a cricket fan.

The final ball of the Gujarat Titans’ innings went for a four, courtesy a thick outside edge from Hardik Pandya. The Titans captain readily apologised to the bowler, Prasidh Krishna. In a format where batsmen believe in scoring runs in every possible way and edges are celebrated if the ball crosses the rope, Pandya’s mea culpa for hitting a streaky boundary caught even Krishna a little off guard. He responded with a sheepish smile.

– Shamik Chakrabarty

Prise them open slowly, does Lockie

When Lockie Ferguson, of black shoes and 69 no. jersey fame, was playing in the KKR team, he was once startled by a query from Pat Cummins. ‘How do you bowl your slower ball?’ Ferguson recalled telling him, “Jesus! You are the No.1 Test bowler in the world. I am certainly not!” There is perhaps a reason Cummins asked Ferguson that. The answer was evident tonight when he took out a rampaging Jos Buttler to turn the game on its head. He had just been ramped over fine-leg for a six off a 148 mph delivery and he decided to slip in his slower one.

Usually, the right-hand fast bowlers do the door-knob turn clockwise for the slower ones. Ferguson goes the other way, fingers coming off the ball. But the beauty behind the Buttler ball was how full it was: a dipping yorker that landed on the base of off and middle stump. Buttler tried to slow his bat-speed, and jam it down in time to keep it out but missed. Clang, went the stumps and Ferguson let a roar of ‘c’mon’. Was Cummins watching?

– Sriram Veera