IPL high-five: Week 6

Two-man shows, a twin feat and a red-hot delivery

Mumbai 16 May 2012
It’s been a week for partnerships. While batting duos have lifted teams, fielding partnerships have been profitable too. And if it’s not a partnership, then it’s one player matching another’s feat. This past week, we’ve witnessed the unlikely occurrence of two players posting the same 100-plus score – 109 – in quick succession. The two-man show takes centre stage in this week’s picks, even as a red-hot delivery steams its way in.

The Morkel-Anirudha partnership

Chennai Super Kings v Rajasthan Royals – May 10, 2012

When Albie Morkel and S Anirudha came together at 84 for six, the Chennai Super Kings were faced with an uphill task – 43 runs off 22 balls.

Rajasthan Royals must have fancied their chance then, for they had almost everything in their favour; the crowd was behind them, the opponents had their backs to the wall, and there were two new batsmen at the crease, one of whom was playing his first match of the season. However, in a matter of moments – six strokes, to be precise – the contest was decided.

After Anirudha had taken a single off the first ball he faced, Morkel smacked a full-length delivery from Pankaj Singh for a six over long off. The following delivery, Morkel attempted a pull shot and the top-edge sent the ball over the wicketkeeper and into the ropes.

A single later, Morkel was again at the striker’s end for the first ball of the next over, bowled by Shane Watson. This one was pitched up too, and received the same treatment as Pankaj Singh did – except it flew over the ropes at long-on. A single later, Anirudha was back on strike, with his team still needing 23 from 15 balls.

Watson dished out a short delivery, and Anirudha, standing back in the crease, smashed it over midwicket for six. Next up was a full toss wide outside off stump, and Anirudha duly carved it away through point for a boundary.

RR skipper Rahul Dravid summoned his best bowler – Shaun Tait – for one final throw of the dice. But it was not to be his night. The Australian quick landed one full-length delivery on middle stump, and Anirudha, standing way back in his crease, picked the line and length and dispatched it nonchalantly over the midwicket boundary to seal the deal.

Just for the record, the partnership between Morkel and Anirudha was worth 43 runs, and they took only 1.5 overs to score those runs. Both batsmen finished with identical figures, 18 runs from six deliveries, with two sixes and a boundary. Chennai Super Kings won the match by four wickets, with 11 balls to spare.

The 109-run club

Delhi Daredevils v Deccan Chargers – May 10, 2012; Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders – May 12, 2012

DLF IPL 2012 saw two contrasting centuries in two days. While David Warner’s unbeaten 109 against the Deccan Chargers was typical of his style – lots of power and attitude – one got to see many facets of batsmanship in Rohit Sharma’s century against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Delhi Daredevils were in a trouble when they lost captain Virender Sehwag off the second ball while chasing 188. However, the diminutive Warner quelled any hopes DC had of pushing for their third win of the season with an astonishing innings.

The Australian, playing his second match of the season, opened his account with consecutive boundaries through the off-side and played some brutal shots through the rest of the evening; while many deliveries were disdainfully dispatched through point and cover, there were many others which sailed over the ropes through square-leg and midwicket too. He reached his hundred in style too; rocking back to a short delivery from Ankit Sharma, bowled on leg-stump, Warner pulled it high and wide over square-leg for six. His unbeaten 109 was his third century in his last four T20 innings in India and his second century in the IPL.

Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten 109, meanwhile, set up Mumbai Indians’ convincing win over KKR. One got to see almost all aspects of batsmanship in that knock; there was technique, timing, placement, footwork and aggression too. The 25-year-old’s flair was evident from the shots he played in that knock; there were the copybook drives through cover, extra cover, mid on and mid off. He cut wide deliveries through point, pulled and hooked short deliveries through the leg-side, and swept the spinners’ deliveries with little difficulty. The hook over square-leg and the six over long on – both off Brett Lee – were the standout shots during his knock.

Hilfenhaus’ perfect delivery

Chennai Super Kings v Delhi Daredevils – May 12, 2012

MS Dhoni had opted to bat first whenever he’d won the toss at Chennai. Not this time, though. There was moisture in the track and it was certainly worth a try, putting the opposition in. But the decision could have backfired equally, given his side would be bowling to the likes of Virender Sehwag and David Warner, two batsmen capable of doing a lot of damage in double-quick time.

A special effort was required and Ben Hilfenhaus delivered just that. After drifting onto Sehwag’s pads and conceding a boundary through fine-leg, Hilfenhaus adjusted his line a tad the following delivery. He landed the ball on middle and off, pitched it fuller in length and got the ball to move away just enough to beat the outside edge of Sehwag’s bat and kiss the top of off stump.

This was classic Test-cricket stuff. But as coaches will tell you, if you get the basics right consistently, success will follow irrespective of the format, the conditions or the opponent.

Botha-Rahane double-act

Rajasthan Royals v Pune Warriors India – May 13, 2012

On most days, the off-drive played by Rahul Sharma off Shane Watson would land over the ropes and earn the batsman six runs. Not this time.

Johan Botha, fielding at wide long off, ran a few yards to his right, got to the ball and took the catch a yard from the boundary rope. There was more to follow; the South African couldn’t stop the forward momentum of his run and was poised to take the ball across the boundary, conceding six runs.

That’s when his presence of mind kicked in. Alert to the situation, he flicked the ball back into the field of play just before he crossed the rope. Ajinkya Rahane, who was running in from long on too, was aware that the ball had been flicked back by his teammate and ran across towards the ball to complete the catch.

One of the most glittering bits of fielding in IPL 2012.

Rayudu, Pollard save the day

Mumbai Indians v Royal Challengers Bangalore – May 14, 2012

After reducing the Mumbai Indians to 51 for five, Royal Challengers Bangalore would have believed the match was theirs for the taking. When Kieron Pollard joined Ambati Rayudu in the middle, the visitors had their backs to the wall; they still needed to score 121 runs from 67 balls to clinch two points from the match.

After several twists and turns – Rayudu and Pollard scored 19 in one over, 14 in another over and only a full-length dive saved Pollard from being run out – both teams were in with a chance heading into the last few overs of the chase.

MI still needed to get 41 runs off the last three overs. That’s when Rayudu cut loose; he hit R Vinay Kumar for a six over long off, followed it up a boundary through extra-cover, and then sent one crashing straight into the sight screen behind the bowler. Zaheer Khan’s tidy 19th over – which saw only nine runs being added to the total – meant MI still needed 14 runs from the final over with all three results possible.

RCB skipper Virat Kohli surprisingly picked Chris Gayle to bowl the final over. The Jamaican soon got a taste of his own medicine with Pollard teeing off; he first dispatched a low full-toss on his pads over the mid-wicket boundary, an attempted heave through the leg-side resulted in a lucky boundary through third-man while a boundary through midwicket sealed the deal for his team.

The unbeaten 122-run stand was the highest partnership for the sixth wicket in all Twenty20 cricket and earned MI an unlikely win.
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