Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 28 April 2014 - 03:44pm IST
Around the IPL: Week 2
From screamers in the outfield to Ump Vision, Week 2 had it all!
More Max from…Well…Maxwell
Glenn Maxwell had blown away two formidable sides in the first five days of the season. Chennai Super Kings – despite posting 205 on the board – were demolished by the Australian who smashed 95 off 43 balls. The Rajasthan Royals were at the receiving end next; playing a wide range of shots, finding the unmanned regions on the field precisely and packing some muscle in his strokes, Maxwell smashed six sixes and eight fours in his 45-ball 89.
Maxwell’s first innings last week mirrored his efforts against CSK. His 43-ball 95 versus SRH contained an incredible nine sixes – including a 98 m hit, which set the record for the longest six in the tournament at that point. The leg-side was undoubtedly his preferred scoring area – he scored 74 percent of his runs on that side of the pitch. There was a lot of rationale in Maxwell’s choice of shots; he normally packed a punch in his sweeps and slog-sweeps, but he pulled out the unorthodox reverse-sweep and switch-hit from his repertoire when the bowlers packed the leg-side field and bowled a restrictive line. And he picked the gaps playing those unorthodox shots too!
Dropped catches continued to cost teams during Week 2; some 16 catches were put down in the 10 matches played in that period. However, there were some screamers too.
Chennai Super Kings’ Faf du Plessis pulled off two stunning catches in the space of one over in Chennai Super Kings’ match against the Delhi Daredevils. The two catches he took – to send back Murali Vijay and Manoj Tiwary – reflected on how complete an athlete he is. With the airborne cricket ball flying away from him, du Plessis – stationed at mid-off – ran in pursuit of it, covering a lot of ground. He kept looking upwards to keep his eyes on the ball, and as the ball came crashing down, he lunged and came up with the ball in both hands.
The second effort was even better – he had to stretch completely at the last moment and had to be airborne for a moment even as the ball made contact with his palms. Such catches happen once in a while. But to pull it off twice in quick succession is simply astounding.
Lynn’s Limbo near the Fence
If one thought du Plessis had set the new standards for catching, there was more to come in Week 2. Kolkata Knight Riders’ Chris Lynn pulled off a screamer against Royal Challengers Bangalore. With RCB on the brink of victory, AB de Villiers made good connection as he attempted to deposit R Vinay Kumar into the stands at midwicket. Chris Lynn positioned squarer on the leg-side boundary, ran to his left in an attempt to take the catch.
Just as he appeared to get to the position where the ball was coming down, he slipped – right on the edge of the fence – almost as if he was doing the limbo. The Australian was not one bit distracted despite losing his footing. He held his poise, settled down nicely under the ball, with his knees firmly on the ground. And as the ball came down, he raised himself ever so slightly, and then, arched backwards to come up with the ball.
What was more astonishing was the follow-up. The 24-year-old lost his balance during the act of arching backwards to get enough elevation to come in contact with the ball. However, he showed good awareness as he realized the momentum would have resulted in his head landing on the padding of the boundary rope. He dragged his body forward just enough to ensure he landed inside the field of play with the ball in his hand. Unreal!
One of the innovations of Pepsi IPL 2014 has been wiring the on-field Umpires with cameras and getting to see bits of action from their perspective. And one got to see two fantastic visuals from the Umpire’s Cam during Week 2. First up, in RCB’s match against KKR, the camera mounted on Umpire Vineet Kulkarni’s hat provided visuals of Yuvraj Singh muscling Umesh Yadav for a six over midwicket. The camera gave an insight into the pace of things in the middle – the speed at which the ball travels to the batsman, the time the batsman has to react and play the shot, how well Yuvraj Singh middled it on that occasion, and finally how far he hit it.
There was another piece of brilliance captured by the Umpire’s Cam in the match between the Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils. DD opener Quinton de Kock pounced on a wide delivery from Corey Anderson and cut it right out of the middle of the bat. But 38-year-old Michael Hussey, positioned at point, moved swiftly to his left and pulled off a sharp catch right in front of the Umpire at the striker’s end. The Umpire’s Cam gave us a good look into the positioning of the point fielder, how quickly the ball traveled to him and how agile Hussey was to move swiftly to his left and pluck a sharp catch.
This is as close as one can get to all the action in the centre!
Selection of the Week
‘Why fix things when they ain’t broke?’ they say. But Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir made the huge decision of leaving out R Vinay Kumar, who had bowled the fantastic last over – successfully defending nine runs – in KKR’s previous match against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Speaking at the toss, Gambhir explained his team was going with “horses for courses” and had hence picked leg-spinner Piyush Chawla for their match against Kings XI Punjab. And didn’t the move work! The 25-year-old spinner returned as the most successful bowler for KKR with figures of 4-0-19-3. Who were his three scalps? The dangerous David Miller, George Bailey and Virender Sehwag!