As action sequences go, this one was straight out of The Matrix. It would probably have even done Keanu Reeves proud. For, Chris Lynn had just pulled off a stunt that, apart from being physics-defying, had stretched the limits to which we thought the human body could contort itself.
With his superhuman catch to dismiss AB de Villiers, the relatively unknown Australian had also provided IPL-7 with its catch of the tournament. Not to forget, turn the match on its head before eventually helping Kolkata Knight Riders pull off a floodlight robbery.
But first the catch. To start with, there was a lot riding on it. With six required off three balls, the match itself depended on the eventual outcome of de Villiers’ powerful slog over mid-wicket.
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And a lot must have gone through Lynn’s head during the couple of seconds between the ball leaving the South African’s bat and it attempting to sail over his head. To make matters worse, he slipped. But rather than try to regain his footing, Lynn amazingly stayed down. Then came the Matrix moment.
From that near-crouch position, he somehow arched his body back while elevating himself enough to not only clasp the ball but also to keep his torso and limbs away from the ropes behind him.
“I slipped and I thought if I stood up and dropped the catch, it would look very silly, so I just stayed down,” he would say later, while explaining his astonishing acrobatics.
But in a strange way, Lynn had left everyone else present at the Sharjah Cricket Ground, including de Villiers of course, looking silly and in shock. While he was soon surrounded by the rest of the KKR teammates,
KKR, though, still hadn’t quite pulled off their heist. RCB still had Albie Morkel at the crease, a man capable of smashing the ball into orbit. To his credit Vinay Kumar, who was defending nine runs off the last over, stayed away from Morkel’s major hitting area, on a length right under his bat, repeatedly trying for the yorker even if it meant dishing out full-tosses.
The big-hitting South African failed to connect on both occasions, and it was KKR who in incredible fashion had scripted a two-run victory, snatching a victory literally from the jaws of certain defeat.
But RCB had themselves to blame for even reaching a position where they needed their middle-order to bail them out. With just 151 required for victory, they looked to be well on their way going into the final four overs, despite having lost Virat Kohli, bowled by a Sunil Narine special. Only 28 were required off the last 24 balls, and with Yuvraj Singh having got his eye in, the victory seemed a formality.
Then Yuvraj froze. Having struggled against the pace and bounce of Morne Morkel earlier, the left-hander found Jacques Kallis equally difficult to get away. Only three runs came off the 17th over before Vinay kept the two senior RCB batsmen to just seven off the next, despite Yuvraj picking up a boundary. Then came the crucial 19th with the onus on Umesh Yadav to leave Vinay Kumar with a reasonable target to defend of the final over.
Though he started with a poor delivery and then also bowled a high no-ball to Yuvraj, he played his part by getting rid of the veteran Indian, having him caught for a pain-staking – by T20 standards – knock of 31 in 34 deliveries. Vinay Kumar now had nine runs to play with, and with a lot of help from Lynn he managed to deny RCB what seemed like a comfortable win.
If it was his stunning catch that turned the match around in the end, it was his batting pyrotechnics that brought KKR back into the match after a stuttering start. Having been put in, KKR were in the tatters at 10/2 as he walked into bat, and in a callous assault that included two sixes of Muttiah Murlaitharan in his first over, Lynn provided the much-needed momentum to his team with a 31-ball 45. But it wasn’t to be this contribution that would make him a household name. He had another piece of magic up his sleeve.