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Partnerships of brilliance, a captain’s innings, venomous bowling and gravity-defying catches – highlights of the fourth week of a rapidly intensifying season. While some of our top performances figure in winning causes, there have also been some commendable efforts that were not rewarded with a win. But then this tournament is also about courage under fire and individual resistance. Take a look at the week’s shining stars. The Rayudu-Peterson Show
Mumbai Indians v Kings XI Punjab – April 25, 2012
On a good batting track, hosts Kings XI Punjab won the toss, opted to bat first and posted a competitive 168 for three. The visitors got off to a good start with openers James Franklin and Sachin Tendulkar adding 52 in 7.5 overs. But the dismissal of both batsmen in the space of nine deliveries put the match in the balance.
KXIP strengthened their grip by picking up the wickets of Dinesh Karthik and the dangerous Kieron Pollard in the next four overs. MI slipped further when the well set Rohit Sharma (50) and Harbhajan Singh departed in the 18th over with their team needing another 34 runs off the final 14 balls.
Just when it looked like KXIP had the game in control, there was one final twist. Robin Peterson, playing his first game of IPL 2012, combined with Ambati Rayudu to guide MI to an improbable win. Peterson reverse swept Piyush Chawla’s first delivery (of the 19th over) for a boundary, followed it up with a switch-hit to the cover boundary and then slog-swept a six over midwicket.
A single off the fourth delivery meant it was Rayudu’s turn to strike big, and he did that in style. Advancing down the track, he sent the ball high and wide over the fence at long-off. For the final delivery of the over, he came down yet again, this time sending the ball over long-on. After that 27-run over, Mumbai Indians needed five off the last six balls, and they got there rather comfortably, with one ball to spare.
Rayudu had scored 34 off 17 deliveries, while Peterson had scored 16 off 7, and their match-winning partnership was worth 36 runs (of just 13 balls).
Delhi Daredevils v Mumbai Indians – April 27, 2012
Having asked their opponents to take first strike, Mumbai Indians had done well to keep the Daredevils’ opening pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Virender Sehwag down to one run off the first over, and three off the first five deliveries of the second over.
RP Singh then dished out a short and wide one, and Sehwag duly obliged sending it to the point fence. Jayawardene got stuck into his compatriot Lasith Malinga in the next over and scored 15 runs off him. It appeared that each batsman was trying to outscore the other and the MI bowlers were left with few answers. At the halfway mark in the innings, Jayawardene had 40 from 31 balls, Sehwag had scored 44 runs from 29 balls, and DD were sitting pretty at 88 for no loss.
Kieron Pollard was introduced into the attack in the 11th over and he got a taste of his own medicine; the DD skipper got stuck into him straightaway and dispatched the first ball into the stands at square-leg to bring up his half-century. He then scored two fours and a six off the same over which saw 23 runs being added to the scoreboard.
When Jayawardene was eventually dismissed in the 14th over, the Delhi Daredevils openers had added 135 runs in 79 balls. MI never recovered from the thrashing they received from the DD openers and went down by 37 runs in their chase of 208.
Kolkata Knight Riders v Royal Challengers Bangalore – April 28, 2012
Gautam Gambhir is known to be an intense player who plays as per the needs of his team. The Kolkata Knight Riders skipper batted at No. 3 in the team’s first two matches this season, but when that formula didn’t quite work, he decided to shoulder more responsibility and open the innings. That move seemed to do wonders with KKR going go on to win four of their next six matches (one of which was abandoned).
After KKR had opted to bat first in their home fixture against the Royal Challengers, the pressure must have been on Gambhir to get his team to a good total given the might and depth of the RCB batting line-up. That the KKR skipper came out with a lot of intent was evident from his first shot, a fierce cut off Zaheer Khan that raced to the point boundary.
With his opening partner Brendon McCullum going steady at the other end, Gambhir took it upon himself to go after the RCB bowlers, and he did that in style. Scoring runs all around the park against every bowler, Gambhir played some brutal strokes and batted until the 19th over; his innings of 93 – his best effort in T20 cricket – was the key contribution in his team’s total of 190.
RCB never recovered from the battering they received at the hands of Gambhir and eventually fell short by 47 runs. Steyn spews fire
Deccan Chargers v Mumbai Indians – April 29, 2012
Mumbai Indians put Deccan Chargers in on a Wankhede track that had some juice in it and skittled them out for 100 in 18.4 overs.
In normal circumstances you’d expect the team chasing to comfortably overhaul the total. But on this occasion, MI had to overcome the resistance presented by the world’s best bowler – Dale Steyn.
The South African lived up to that top billing with perhaps the best spell of IPL 2012. Bowling quick, full and getting the ball to move away ever so slightly, Steyn was in full force; he breached the defence of compatriot Richard Levi with the first ball of the run chase and beat Rohit Sharma’s bat thrice the same over. His second over saw Sachin Tendulkar get off strike with a streaky outside edge, while Sharma’s struggles continued for the rest of the over.
Steyn continued to fire in the remaining two overs; he had Dinesh Karthik caught behind, found the outside edge of Sharma’s bat time and again, and even troubled James Franklin. Steyn’s figures at the end of the spell (4-0-10-2 – with three of the 10 runs coming in wides) don’t do full justice to the magic on display. He should have had the wicket of Franklin too had Amit Mishra not bungled a catch at the point boundary. Bravo leap of faith
Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab – April 28, 2012
Piyush Chawla was comprehensively beaten by a slower one from Albie Morkel; way too early into the pull shot, he only managed a top edge that sent the ball high into the skies.
For a moment it appeared to be headed in no man’s land. However, that feisty Trinidadian Dwayne Bravo – forever making things happen on the field – didn’t seem to think so. He charged in several paces from long-on, overshot by a yard or two, pulled the brakes, leapt high and back in the air and pulled off an unbelievable catch.
Bowling a dream spell, the youngster rocked Royals on the back foot with a four-wicket haul and conceding only 18 runs. Playing in his third game of the tournament, the 19-year-old took the game away from RR by dismissing four of their important batsmen.
In a brief post-match interview, Negi spoke to iplt20.com about his match-winning spell.
On bowling to Rahul Dravid, who is one of the best players of spin
My only plan was to give him a single and attack on the batsman at the other end.
On which of the four wickets does he consider to be his best
I liked the Shane Watson wicket the best; the way he got bowled.
On whether Morne Morkel’s tight spell earlier had helped him
Yes that did help. Morne Morkel had bowled a very good spell. [...]
On what had Virender Sehwag told him when he was handed the ball
Viru bhaiyya had told me that both the batsmen play well through the cover region, so try not to give them a chance to play in that area, and keep the ball back of length.
On having to wait his turn to get a game and whether he felt the pressure to perform
There was no pressure; everyone was very supportive.
On coach Eric Simons
He has worked with me lot and he has taught me a quite a few things. And the rest of the supporting staff has also worked hard with me. And our captain, Viru bhaiyya, has also supported me a lot, and because of that I could perform well.
On the specific changes he has made
TA Sekar sir has told me a lot of things about bowling, and that has helped my bowling a lot. He has got me to change my bowling action a bit, and that has helped in my bowling.
On his batting
I do bat well in the middle-order. I can bat well enough to support the batsman at the other end. I hope to perform with the bat as well. I did get to bat in one match, but [I] was run-out.
On what he has picked up from the many good batsmen in the DD ranks
I have learnt the most from Viru Bhayyia. I learn from watching the way he plays his shots.