Ashwin over-steps as friend DK punishes; Chahal keeps buzzing; Willey double bluffs Jaiswal

Two no balls, one each by Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, at critical points of the game became central events of the game’s narrative. The first instance was when Royals’ seamer Akash Deep over-stepped when bowling the second ball of the last over. It was a no-ball of microscopic scale, but Jos Buttler pinched the free-hit ball for a six. Dismayed, Akash lost his cool and began to offer freebies—either short or length balls that Buttler and Shimron Hetmeyer took due toll on. He ended up bleeding a pair of sixes more in the 23-run over. Similarly, just when Royals seemed to have snatched the grip of the match, Ashwin over-stepped when bowling at Dinesh Karthik. The latter thumped the free-hit over Ashwin’s head and ended up plundering 21 runs off the over. Royals never recovered from that onslaught.

Royals’ seamer Akash Deep over-stepped when bowling the second ball of the last over. (Twitter)

Willey brews the bitter better

Bowling in the power-play overs in the IPL”, says RCB’s left-arm seamer David Willey, “is more difficult than making coffee for the team.” Flat tracks, small boundaries, ravenous batsmen, most bowlers would agree. But he found the Wankhede surface much to his liking, as it abetted some swing. All he might have wished for might have been that tiny assistance to trouble the batsmen. He bent the ball both ways, lavish swing into the left-handed Yashaswi Jaiswal and subtle swing into the right-handed Jos Buttler. Jaiswal was double-bluffed—three good-length away-goers, followed by a fuller, faster in-swinger. The reverse formula almost worked against Devdutt Padikkal—a couple of nip-backers, before one that held the line that took off his edge. Only that the edge eluded the catchers. He then hurried Buttler with short-balls, the latter under-edging one just past the stumps. Maybe, his perceptions of bowling in the IPL power-plays would change. Rather than whipping up coffee for his team, he was making batsmen smell the coffee. Three overs: 16 runs against one of the most explosive batsmen around, fresh from a hundred, Willey was brewing some strong stuff.
(Disclaimer: This brew doesn’t cure Wordleing hangover)

Sublime sometimes, sometimes streaky

In the end, Devdutt Padikkal’s luck ran out against his old club. For in the space of three balls, he was dropped twice. First, when he mis-slogged a slog to deep midwicket off the industrious Akash Deep. David Willey seemed in control to reach under the ball, but the ball seemed to change direction in its dip (or was it Willey misjudging?) and Willey ended up diving and clasping futilely at the ball. In the next over, he flicked Willey himself in the air. Mohammed Siraj sprinted to pouch the ball, but he over-ran and ended up shelling the catch. The ball bounced off his wrists and trickled to the fence. But he was not lucky the third time, and so ended a knock that oscillated between the sublime (a pick-up six off Siraj) and the streaky.

DK’s non-OK

Dinesh Karthik’s impassivity was in sharp contrast to Mohammed Siraj’s customary exuberance. The seasoned Faf du Plessis trusted his wicketkeeper’s experience and judgment. In the first over, Siraj beat Yashasvi Jaiswal with a full inswinger and appealed animatedly for a leg-before. The bowler has a habit of imploring his captain to go for a review in every close call. Line was the issue here and Karthik from behind the stumps barely showed any interest. Du Plessis glanced at his ‘keeper and decided not to review it. As it turned out, it was a good call, for the ball had pitched outside leg. In his next over, Siraj became excited again, after beating the inside edge of Jos Buttler’s bat and hitting him on the thigh. Karthik didn’t even look at the bowler and that was enough for the Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper.

Kohli’s safe clasping palms
Jos. Word.

There was a mini-drama when umpires wanted to check whether Virat Kohli’s catch to take out Devdutt Padikkal was legal. When the umpires told him that it was about the legality, the surprised look on Kohli was priceless: like a priest accused of being caught thieving. Standing beside him was his captain Faf du Plessis who caressed Kohli’s bearded face with a smile and both smiled as they waited for the verdict. Beaten by the slower one, Padikkal had miscued an attempted lofted hit and Kohli started to backpedal furiously at covers. He cupped his palms skywards, pouched an excellent catch and as he fell backwards, the umpires wanted to check whether the right hand holding the ball touched the ground. The replays confirmed the legality and after he watched it on the big screen, Kohli flashed a smile. As an aside, Padikkal’s partner Jos Buttler had gestured a slower off break and warned Padikkal to look out for it as soon as Harshal Patel had come on. Couple of balls later, though, Padikkal fell for exactly that ball.

Hasaranga tangles Samson

When Sanju Samson smeared the second ball off Wanindu Hasaranga over wide long-on, he seemed to have buried an old ghost. The stocky Sri Lanka leg-spinner has been his familiar nemesis—winkling him out thrice in their four duels before this game. But Sanju still seemed haunted. For he kept shuffling in the crease, in a futile attempt to dishevel him. The ball after the six spooked Sanju even more—a brisk wrong’un that turned and bounced, but struck him outside the leg-stump. A review was burned— but in hindsight it all seemed a ruse. Sanju seemed fearful—his wrong’uns had nailed him twice in Sri Lanka last year and he seemed utterly clueless in decoding him. So he moves this way and that. Timorous, he hung on the back-foot, his feet crease-tied and tried to work the wrong-un, not turning as viciously as the previous one, meekly towards the leg-side. But it bounced more than he had expected and seemed to stop at him (half-wrong’un half-top-spinner?).The baffled Sanju offered a simple return catch. And the old ghost was swirling all over him. Make that four out of five for eight runs.

Busybody Chahal and his buzz

When the IPL started, a sort of mini-battle for a spot in Indian T20 team was on between R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal. Both have bowled according to their roles:Ashwin in Powerplay and later to build pressure by restricting runs and Chahal as the wicket-taking striker. And boy, has Chahal sparkled or what. He first took out Faf du Plessis with a crafty leg break. He had been hit downtown for a six earlier in the over and so, shifted the line this time to outside leg stump. Du Plessis tried to adjust for the drift in his intended big hit but it turned as well, cramping him for room, and he holed out to long-on. Next over, Chahal slipped in a googly to David Willey who just about stabbed it to the on side and had to send back a charging Kohli. Sanju Samson, the wicketkeeper, sprinted across, picked, and flung in a throw at Chahal who broke the stumps, also hurting his hand in process but the pain was worth it as Kohli was just short of safety. Next ball, Chahal ripped across a leg break but Willey left a gaping gap between bat and pad as he groped forward in dark and was bowled. Chahal would have had one more next over but Ashwin couldn’t hold on to a sharp chance at midwicket. Chahal flung his arms out in exasperation; Ashwin shook his hands in pain, even blowing some air to soothe the bruise.

Friends have a go..at each other

DK vs Ash. Two old friends who bond on Tamil cinema. Two who look to take out each other on field. The first ball was a no-ball and drifted down leg and Karthik swept it to the boundary. On air, Sunil Gavaskar, as ever, spent his emotional energy on the crime of the no ball. Next was a full delivery and the ball was thrown back from the long-on stands. The next 6 was the real beauty, that reminded one of Carl Hooper. It was a fairly good ball, slower and not so full, and Karthik adjusted by waiting and just wafting it up and over, a delicious chip ala Hooper. Ashwin came back with a ripper of a carrom ball that spun past the poke. Next ball, though, Karthik was ready and quickly went down on his knee to reverse sweep it for a four in what ended as a 21-run over.

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