Mumbai record highest run-chase on a day big bats produce big boast with Buttler barrage, and a T20 outsider tames a T20 legend.
Big bats produce big boast
IF THE whole debate surrounding the size of bats in cricket today has been confusing for you, there were three boundary shots played at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Thursday that somewhat summed it up. We’ll start with the second. Glenn Maxwell is on fire. This one’s a low full-toss, angled in from over the wicket and aimed to strike somewhere near the base of Maxwell’s left shin. Maxwell is surprised by the low full-toss, like batsmen are generally considering it’s not a delivery that you plan for, but he still had the wits and the gumption to attempt a whip. The ball hits the base of his bat, which is expected to generate the least amount of force on the ball. Still, the ball sails over the square-leg fence. And then you wonder why they say bats are meatier than ever before in the modern era.
The third one in the segment came from Jos Buttler as he smashed his highest-ever score in IPL history to hasten Mumbai Indians towards their highest-ever successful run-chase of 199 in just 15.3 overs. It was a short of length delivery outside off from medium-pacer Sandeep Sharma, so basically it meant all the power had to be generated by Buttler and his bat. Obviously that meant the English wicket-keeper had to connect with the absolute middle of his bat right? Wrong. The ball hit somewhere on the splice on the bat, closer to the handle than the bottom of the sticker. But still, the ball landed at least five blocks up the stand behind the deep mid-wicket fence. Again, a batsman had used the part of the bat that wasn’t expected to produce a six to do just that. And you wonder if Buttler could produce this shot come October 1, when the new rules take effect with regards to the restrictions on the thickness of the bat.
Now, we come to a boundary that Hashim Amla scored en route to his first-ever T20 century that allowed Kings XI Punjab to post a nearly-200 run total. It’s a full straight delivery from Lasith Malinga and Amla brings his bat down slightly awkwardly but at exactly the right time for it to strike the sweetest spot on the bat, and the ball whistles off over the bowler’s head and rams into the boundary board first-bounce. On a day two men who’ve redefined the batting dictionary with their brazen audacity produced shots that were awe-inspiring, it was a simple push from one whose neoclassical approach was always thought to be a liability in the shortest format who produced the most eye-catching shot, and innings.(Results | Fixtures | Points Table)
But Amla’s century was in vain. It was the power and brazenness of Buttler that almost inevitably won the day. As recently as February this year, Jos Buttler was advocating the cause of T20 specialists. “There seems to be a view that if you want to just play Twenty20, you’re taking an easy option,” he had said. Ironically, it was just two months after he’d reignited his Test career, which seemed to have slipped by, while scoring impressive runs on an otherwise disastrous Test tour for England in India.
These were words of someone who’s had to undergo constant criticism for having chosen a format that despite its popularity is still regarded by some as being too vulgar. What you saw of Buttler at Indore though was what brought him to the dance in the first place half-a-dozen years. As he orchestrated innings and shots of never-before-seen extravagance during an English summer for Somerset, the old guard of cricket stood up and took notice. He has always been a special talent. And most of the amazement with regards to his batting comes from his ability to generate power on shots without a significant wind-up or follow through. Most of Buttler’s sixes are swatted. Only a few are hit. It was Buttler at his best, and for good measure Nitish Rana played yet another knock of extreme eye-catchiness to take his team home.
T20 outsider tames T20 legend
Amla and Malinga. Two names you wouldn’t take together in a T20 context, unless it was the slingy fast bowler getting the better of someone who till recently wasn’t even a regular in the South African setup for the shortest format. But on Thursday, it was the turn of the stylist to turn bully, as he smashed 51 runs off 16 balls that he faced from Malinga, the second-most-merciless assault on a bowler by a single batsman.