GT vs SRH: Rashid’s masterclass with bat, Malik’s searing pace, and Shashank’s dream run

No one does the check-whip-drive better than Rashid Khan in modern-day cricket. Who has the time to get the bat all the way up, then swing it down, and then crash through the line? What Khan does brilliantly is to generate insane power through sheer timing with that short-arm jab of his. That shot sends shivers down spines of bowlers, who then seem to abandon trying yorkers against him. Instead, as Marco Jansen did, slower ones are attempted. But if one can’t disguise them well, it poses another problem. With 15 balls needed from four balls, Jansen hit an off-pace length outside off but it was in Rashid’s arc. That bat-swing again and it shielded over the sightscreen. A dot ball followed with a short delivery but Jansen again went full outside off. Mistake. Another ideal delivery for that Rashid bat-swing as Muttiah Muralitharan’s anguished post-ball screams in the Hyderabad dugout showed. Rashid sliced ​​it over cover. A venom-less short ball arrived which pulled over fine-leg for the winning six. “I told Tewatia in the last over, don’t panic,” he would say later. Two men who don’t panic in such situations, two men whose hand-eye coordination is extraordinary, two men who pull off heists (Rashid has done it in the Big Bash too) tell each other not to panic. Cute that.

Sriram Veera


Gill takes elevator, Abhishek stairs

One evening a few years ago, when Abhishek Sharma’s friend Shubman Gill was all the rage to emerge from the U-19 circuit, an interview was conducted in his presence. The two were thick as thieves, a bit like Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli. Very sportingly, Sharma not only hung around but kept peppering in anecdotes about Gill. At one point, when one found oneself alone with him, a comment from U-19 coach WV Raman was shared with him. A simple observation about how he is a “natural talent” whose time will come. Abhishek’s face changed. He took in a deep breath, the face contorting into a tensed breath-intake before it relaxed into this indescribable bliss: that the coach believes in him, that he is good enough, that this is not all an internal dream, that he can indeed make it in cricket, that he isn’t wasting his life away. Abhishek has had to wait a few years. This season, he got the opportunity to open, and is making it count. When he lifted Alzarri Joseph over cover, Kevin Pietersen purred, “We are lucky to see this live. It’s so beautiful, so effortless, so majestic.” And when he creamed the next ball all along the carpet, Ian Bishop went, “That’s a beautiful shot.” A few overs later, he went down on his knee to wallop Rashid Khan for a stunning six over long-on. Good things, sometimes, do happen to people who wait.

Sriram Veera


Shashank Singh’s dream continues

For Shashank Singh’s cricket-crazy family, an outing means going out for a game. They all went to watch the Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings 2010 IPL final at DY Patil Stadium and returned home with life-time memories of watching MS Dhoni lift the trophy. More than a decade later, Shashank was at the same venue making his IPL debut, and as fate would have it, against CSK with the legend in the No.7 jersey still capable of churning fan-frenzy. His father loves giving last-minute tips to his son. Do breathing exercises, stay positive and, as Shashank told the SRH media team with a shy smile, “be wary of Bravo’s slower ball”. It hasn’t yet been reported what Shashank’s hard-core cricket fan father told his son before the game against Gujarat Titans but chances are it might be something on the lines: ‘Be wary of Lockie Ferguson’s slow ball’. So in the final over of the SRH innings, Shashank spotted the Kiwi speedster’s back-of-the-hand change of pace and sent it over the fence. The next two balls too disappeared into the stands. Shashank’s dream continues.

Sandeep Dwivedi

The Late, Late Show – courtesy Malik

There is a difference between playing late and being late. The late Martin Crowe once lucidly explained the meaning of playing late. “If you see it [the ball] early, you have time, but if you see it late, you tend to play it early because you are searching for the ball.” Shubman Gill and Hardik Pandya found that out against Umran Malik. Gill’s was the more ambitious attempt. Not only did he step away from the stumps at the last instant possible, he also tried to cut a length delivery. Unwise. By the time his downward bat swing began, the stumps had been rattled. Pandya’s was a more understandable error. He had copped a fierce blow on his shoulder first ball from Malik but as is his wont, didn’t shy away next ball but punched a length ball sweetly to the boundary. Next over, though, the expected bouncer arrived, but it was outside off, and in his eagerness, Pandya tried to drag it from there to the on side but found he was too late with it. The top edge carried to third man. Wriddhiman Saha was the third man to be scorched out by a yorker. Like Gill, he tried to back away at the last instant but couldn’t get his bat down in time as there was no time.

Sriram Veera


Malik vs Pandya: Fire meets fire

Umran Malik cleaned up Shubman Gill with a thunderbolt and channelled his inner Brett Lee, celebration-wise. Hardik Pandya came to the crease and Malik cranked up the pace even further, hitting the Gujarat Titans captain on the shoulder – Welcome, Skipper! Hardik eschewed the pain and sent the physio off, before responding with a cracking off- drive for a four next ball. The heat was on and Hardik was game. Malik, though, had the last laugh. Another bouncer and the top edge went to Marco Jansen, so fine at third man that he doubled up as a back-stopper. It was excellent captaincy from Kane Williamson. Not only did he keep the third man fielder very fine, he also posted the tallest man in his team, the 6ft 8in Jansen, there. At Malik’s pace, top edges tend to fly, leaving no room for altitude disability. It was a battle within the battle, a phase of cricket that lit up Wankhede.

Shamik Chakrabarty


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