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SRH vs MI, Emotional Rollercoaster: Pat Cummins’ 3-run over, Rohit Sharma’s pull, Heinrich Klaasen’s sixathon and more

IPL 2024: When it seemed that Mumbai Indians had a chance to achieve the impossible, SRH skipper ensured that the heroics of his batsmen didn’t go in vain with the over of the match.

A Pat for the bowlers

Rs 20.5 crore for Pat Cummins at the auction raised eyebrows, as whether it was worth spending that amount on a cricketer who hasn’t really nailed down the T20 format was yet to be seen. Then he was appointed Sunrisers Hyderabad captain too, when there was a case to be made that he might not be a nailed-on starter as one of the four overseas picks. But on the other side, everything he touches these days turns to gold. Perhaps that is what SRH were banking on.

One match doesn’t prove either side of the case, but Cummins had plenty to smile towards the back-end of Wednesday’s sixathon. On a night when 523 runs were scored on a belter of a wicket, the 15th over bowled by Cummins went for just 3 runs. He finished with 2/35 from his four overs, taking the wickets of Rohit Sharma and Tilak Varma. That over was preceded and followed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jaydev Unadkat applying the hand-brakes as well. Overs 13, 15 and 16 bowled by those three combined went for 13 runs, comfortably the decisive spell enjoyed by the bowlers on the night. And their captain led the way.

There was excitement around Kwena Maphaka when Mumbai Indians got him as the replacement for Dilshan Madushanka. The yet-to-turn-18 teenager was a breakout star of the recent U19 World Cup in South Africa, bowling with impressive heat. The left-arm pacer picked up 21 wickets in the tournament. It didn’t take long for MI to hand a debut to him, as he was drafted in place of Luke Wood. The youngster bowled a good first over, conceding just 7 runs. But the reality of the step up from age-group cricket to the IPL would hit him soon enough, in the form of Travis Head. The Aussie opener should have been dismissed in the second over but his compatriot Tim David offered him a reprieve, one that would end up hurting Maphaka. Head would turn on the heat in the third over, smacking two sixes and two fours… one of the sixes, a 98m hit over midwicket. Hardik Pandya would try to cheer up the youngster, but it was a tough start to life in the IPL for Maphaka.

Head’s simple method

Just before the IPL, Travis Head, returning to the league after seven seasons, was asked whether he would play the reverse-sweep like Joe Root. “Not a chance, I can’t play the normal reverse-sweep. I barely can play on my left-hand side. I have tinkered with stuff, not that shot in particular. I find it easier just to clear my front leg and slog it rather than try to be too funky, and I think that works for me,” he replied. That’s exactly what he did against Mumbai Indians. He would clear his front leg, and open up a sprawling arc between midwicket and long-off. Back-to-back fours with this method fetched him a 18-ball half-century. Just when the bowler is about to release, Head opens up his body, takes the front foot away from the line, and depending on the length, he would adjust. Mumbai tried the short-ball trick too, but he creamed a pair of sixes off the inexperienced South Africa quick Kwena Maphaka. Hardik too bowled short, outside off-stump and shaping away. He would merely ramp it over short third with dexterous hands, swaying away from the line a fraction. Simple method, prolific returns.

Record hitting

Travis Head struck the fastest-ever half-century for Sunrisers Hyderabad. In 18 balls of buccaneering stroke-play. His record lasted merely 20 balls, before Abhishek Sharma completed his fifty in only 18 balls. An unusually scattergun Piyush Chawla helped him ignite his innings, with three horrendous short balls, all duly smeared over the ropes with a fluid bat-swing and supreme balance of the body. Thereafter, the innings was a blur of boundaries. Poor Kwena Maphaka, he was again on the chopping board. A fierce yorker slid through Sharma’s legs from an under-edge. A short ball duly despatched to the stands. The brain-dizzied Maphaka flung one full and Sharma slung it over the sight-screen to complete the half-century. He has something of a middle-over destroyer reputation, scoring 567 runs at a strike rate of 150.79 from overs 6 to 16. And he showed how it could be done.

Klaasen, the six-machine

There is a strong case to be made that Heinrich Klaasen is the most in-form T20 batter in the world at the moment. And a big part of his success has been an unreal ease in clearing the boundary. His stunning form in SA20 has carried over to the IPL too. Against KKR at Eden Gardens, he brought SRH back into the match from nowhere with his six-hitting ability. So much so that all of his boundaries that night came through sixes, eight of them.

Against MI in Hyderabad, he continued in the same vein. His first three boundaries were once again sixes. After hitting 11 sixes in IPL 2024, Klaasen finally hit a four when he struck one down the ground off Kwena Maphaka. Of course, in the same over, he’d return to six-hitting ways, smacking one over the fence. Go big or go bigger, it’d seem the mantra for the South African superstar.

Pull of the pull

Rohit Sharma is one of the cleanest pullers of the cricket ball. But the shot has undone him a few times too. It’s inevitable, you live and die by the same sword. Sharma had just whipped Pat Cummins through mid-wicket, a smooth swing of the bat. Cummins pulled the length back a fraction, and Sharma’s impulses kicked in. Only that the ball bounced a bit more than he had assumed but at the same time, skidded onto him. Presumably, it was his heavy ball. It hurried Sharma and the ball squirmed off the top edge to the hands of Abhishek Sharma. He had been dropped once, but not this time.

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