IPL 2022: Dhawan’s body contorting shotmaking; Basil’s toe smashing yorkers and Rabada getting the job calmly done

😤🧖🏾‍♂️☮️

Couple of days after his Test captain Dean Elgar had issued a warning about future selection of players like him who chose IPL over country, Kagiso Rabada did what he does: winning matches for his team. He was one of many from South Africa who chose IPL over the Test series against Bangladesh and that hasn’t gone down all that well with Elgar and even the coach Mark Boucher. There must have been some pressure on him after those comments were splashed in the cricketing world but if it was, he didn’t show it. He first took out Rohit Sharma with the new ball, tucking him with a back-of-length kicker into his body, and then returned for a very special 19th over. Suryakumar Yadav on strike with 28 runs needed, and Rabada yielded a four first ball. But he recovered and removed Yadav off his fourth ball with a low dipping full toss that was hit straight to long-on. As ever, Rabada was fairly impassive, while Odean Smith, who took the catch, flung the ball down with great emotion. Perhaps, he was relieved that he didn’t have to bowl to Yadav in the final over. Last time he bowled the last over, Rahul Tewatia happened. Though Unadkat did slam a six first ball, Smith held his nerves to remove him to push Mumbai Indians to their fifth successive loss.

Sriram Veera

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Agarwal in search of sweet timing

🥚🐣🐥🐔

Captaincy seemed to take a toll on Mayank Agarwal’s runs as well as strike. Whereas in the last two seasons, he bragged a hitting rate of 147, this season, with the burden of captaincy thrust on him, he seemed to creak, managing just 105 in the first four excursions. All the while, he could hoard only 42 runs. But the 32-ball 52 against Mumbai could liberate him. While he has not rekindled the divine touch of the previous couple of seasons, he did emanate flashes of splendour. Force and not fluency predominated the knock, though a six off Tymal Mills down the ground deserved appreciation. A pitched up slower-ball it was, and in other times, he would have driven the ball down the ground for a single. But here, he just went through with the stroke, sledgehammering than stroking the ball. More like a right-handed version of Matthew Hayden. The six notched up his first half-century of this season, though he perished soon after to a familiar nemesis, a leg-spinner, Murugan Ashwin on this occasion.

Sandip G

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Dhawan’s pretty pleasing Pretzelasans

🧘🏻‍♂️🥨🤸🏽‍♂️

During the 13th over of the innings, the broadcasters ran a highlight package of all the Shikhar Dhawan hits from the knock. It felt like watching a flip book of Yogasanas. A series of body twitches, shifts in balance, a lean back, a sway, a side-shuffle – and the bat is seemingly there just to help the ball along after he has got into these great body positions. Such is the absence of visual violence. His game is all about contorting his body into right positions where he retains balance, shape, and can access timing and make full use of the pace on the ball to tap, swat, shovel, flick, pat it through gaps. In a muscular world, it’s quite a sight, and a stand out at that. Even when he charges out, it’s all about squeezing himself into a position from where he can do what he does. No wonder, before this game, he averaged 95 against Jasprit Bumrah. He doesn’t try to belt, but milks him. Occasionally, though, like in that over, he rushed out but since the ball was wide outside off, he had to reach out for an ugly attempt but the resultant edge was spilled by the lunging ‘keeper Ishan Kishan. Those shots are more an aberration than the norm. Dhawan is one of the batsmen who has tweaked his game to suit the demands of the modern-day freneticism, but hasn’t swerved far away from his essence seen in his younger days.

Sriram Veera

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Bumrah not booming still

🔋👎🏼😴

By his lofty standards, Jasprit Bumrah has been a bit off-colour in this IPL. Today also, the radar didn’t work to start with, as his first three deliveries strayed down the leg-side – four leg byes followed by two wides. The fast bowler came back with a yorker, he was taking a little time to warm up. But the last ball of the over, too, was hittable, wide outside off, and Mayank Agarwal gave it a real crack. The batsman, however, played it uppishly and the ball went through the hands of Murugan Ashwin. It was pretty catchable, but Ashwin’s technique sort of resembled a goalkeeper, trying to tip a free-kick over the bar, rather than a cover-point fielder. Bumrah needed a helping hand, he didn’t get it. As is his wont, Bumrah saw the funny side of it and broke into a smile.

Shamik Chakrabarty

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Dhawan nails the ramp shot

🛫🦿💪🏽

What was the old classical way of dealing with a sharp, mean bouncer that threatened to knock your head off? Arch back like a master yogi, fix your gaze on the ball and sway away like Keanu Reeves in Matrix. If you still don’t get it, google Sunil Gavaskar. In the T20 era, batsmen can’t see the ball sail past them. A dot ball is an insult, a D merit that can impact your auction price. So like in life, Mother Necessity has given birth to a young and vibrant Invention. These days those mean threatening snorters have been de-venomised. Batsmen while doing a standing dhanurasana, poke the bat at the ball and ramp it over the wicket-keeper. So when Jasprit Bumrah, came round the wicket, and aimed a short-one to the daringly innovative Shikhar Dhawan’s helmet grill, you knew this wouldn’t be a dot ball. Like a South American footballer’s deft pass in the D or Dutch hockey forward’s nuanced deflection into the goal net, Dhawan with a soft subtle touch guided the ball over the keeper Ishan Kishan. The true test of the batsman being in control of this innovation is the trajectory of the ball. If it went exactly over the keeper, you know the batsman was in control of the difficult shot. Kishan’s helplessness and Bumrah’s frustration was ample proof that Dhawan had nailed it.

Sandeep Dwivedi

Tolling of the toe crushing knell

🦶🏼🔔🔔🔔😲🤕

To a toe-crusher from the modern master of toe-crushing, Jasprit Bumrah, the big-hitting Liam Livingstone had no retort or response, but a stony face. The Englishman, who has smacked 64 and 60 in his last knocks, both at a strike closer to 200, stood helpless defenceless, as the most pinpoint of Bumrah’s nuclear-tipped missiles snuck under his statuesque feet, and bat froze in its downward swing. The moment the ball began to curl devilishly into his pads, Livingstone could hear the tolling of the death-knells. And the ball kept tailing in, before it landed much before Livingstone could stamp his bat onto the ground and manage some scrap of his bat on the ball. Perhaps much before his eyes saw the fiendish dip. Batsmen need the processor of supercomputers to react fast against yorkers of such pace and precision. Livingstone left scarred, as had several Bumrah-stung batsmen, and this ball could haunt him for games to come.

Sandip G

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Basil instinct: smash toes with yorker

Basil Thampi had one critic. Rather one very concerned individual. His mother. When his pace in a Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament in 2017 excited everyone his mother asked him why he was “unnecessarily swinging his arm so fast!” He once told this newspaper, “She was worried I would hurt myself. Bowl slowly, she told me!” Maternal love hasn’t prevented him from trying to decapitate batsmen’s toes with his yorkers that were developed during his tennis-ball six-a-side days on small grounds. And he honed that skill further when he went to MRF pace academy under the tutelage of the legendary Glenn McGrath. The skill was seen in patches tonight. He had just bled two sixes in the final overs and the remaining three deliveries seemed set for more mayhem from Shahrukh Khan. Instead, Thampi rallied back with a perfect yorker that tailed in late from outside off to beat the big swing and crashed into the off stump. Hopefully, his mother wasn’t looking at his arm but at the other end at the stumps.

Sriram Veera

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Tucking up Ishan before tucking into him

🕴🏻🎛️

Ishan Kishan is a good case of how performance analysts zoom in on a weakness and how that opens up cracks elsewhere in the game. This IPL, most teams started to tie him up with deliveries nipping back from middle and leg. Tuck him up, cramp him, and without the fluidity of wristy flicks, he has been pushed into awkward jabs. As often happens, cracks began to happen elsewhere. With his mind on that delivery, he was caught out, reaching out late to a delivery outside off stump, and edging it. It was a ball swinging away in the corridor and probably had it been bowled in the last season, he might well have driven it or at least not reached out late like this, and lunging away from his body. May be. Definitely not this season though. Now is when he has to prove his worth. Can he find a way to bounce back?

Sriram Veera

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Rahul’s sleight of back-of-hand

🤓🤚🏻👏🏽

If true challenge of a bowler is how he bounces back from a severe hammering, Rahul Chahar won it hands down. After being looted for four sixes by Baby AB, all eyes were on him when he came to bowl to Suryakumar Yadav. Unsurprisingly, he went for his favourite bamboozler: the back-of-the-hand leg break. It’s quite a ball. For all purposes, it seems like a googly, delivered from back of the hand, but he gets it to spin like a leg break. A surprised Yadav was beaten, playing inside the line. And he pursed his lips, muttered something to his partner. Chahar rinsed and repeated it again to same result. In the past, we have seen him beat the likes of MS Dhoni, AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli with that ball. The best reaction though probably came from Karun Nair during 2019 Ranji Trophy quarters. After being beaten by that special leg break, he flashed a wide smile, looked at his partner, and mimicked the back-of-hand release.

Sriram Veera

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Brevisy is the soul of HIT

💪🏽🤏🏾🌪️🌀
Dewald Brevis’s Instagram page has photographs, not selfies, of or with most cricketing legends. There is a snap of Sachin Tendulkar at the nets, launching into a drive but without a bat. There are those of his favourite—AB de Villiers. Curtly Ambrose and Shivnarine Chanderpaul flank him in another. He says he never spares an opportunity to snap pics with his childhood heroes so that he “remains grounded”. “At the top of his Insta-profile is a line: “All the glory to Jesus,” with the emoji of a cross. But history shows that god-fearing cricketers do not mean merciful ones. Matthew Hayden was a devout Catholic, but he used to knock the daylights out of bowlers. So was Fred Truman, the rumbustious English fast bowler. Here Brevis dismantled Rahul Chahar so remorselessly that the leggie might have lost all the faith in his bowling. He smeared him for four successive sixes—each longer and powerful than the other. After the first six, Chahar smiled impishly, as if saying, “Keep hitting, I am weaving the trap.” The next one was fuller and he creamed it into the stands. Chahar shortened the length, which Brevis accepted with a ferocious pull. Chahar was so stunned that he did not have a response. He just strolled in and bowled the next ball—a wide, full ball that he thundered over long-on. Then, after unleashing all this fury, he looked apologetically at Chahar. “Sorry mate, didn’t mean this.”

Sandip G

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All’s well and working in Rabada land

😤🧖🏾‍♂️☮️

Couple of days after his Test captain Dean Elgar had issued a warning about future selection of players like him who chose IPL over country, Kagiso Rabada did what he does: winning matches for his team. He was one of many from South Africa who chose IPL over the Test series against Bangladesh and that hasn’t gone down all that well with Elgar and even the coach Mark Boucher. There must have been some pressure on him after those comments were splashed in the cricketing world but if it was, he didn’t show it. He first took out Rohit Sharma with the new ball, tucking him with a back-of-length kicker into his body, and then returned for a very special 19th over. Suryakumar Yadav on strike with 28 runs needed, and Rabada yielded a four first ball. But he recovered and removed Yadav off his fourth ball with a low dipping full toss that was hit straight to long-on. As ever, Rabada was fairly impassive, while Odean Smith, who took the catch, flung the ball down with great emotion. Perhaps, he was relieved that he didn’t have to bowl to Yadav in the final over. Last time he bowled the last over, Rahul Tewatia happened. Though Unadkat did slam a six first ball, Smith held his nerves to remove him to push Mumbai Indians to their fifth successive loss.

Sriram Veera

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