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Monday, December 09, 2019

Abhimanyu Mithun: Five-star action hero

His first wicket was the blazing Himanshu Rana, who miscued a pull to deep mid-wicket. Though Mithun had lost a few yards of pace, he still has the ability to make the ball skid onto the batsmen and surprise him.

By: Express News Service | Updated: November 30, 2019 8:00:18 am
Abhimanyu Mithun, Vijay Hazare Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy finals, Vijay Hazare Trophy finale, Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy finals, Sports news, Indian Express Abhimanyu Mithun became the first bowler in the domestic circuit to claim hat-trick in all the formats. (PTI)

Just a month after he nabbed a hat-trick in the Vijay Haraze Trophy final against Tamil Nadu, on his 30th birthday, he grabbed another in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy semi-final against Haryana. The most recent feat—he now has one in every form of the game, the first Indian to the distinction—wouldn’t have been wrought more dramatically or bizarrely. Wicketless and bleeding nearly 10 runs till the final overs—his third over leaked 18, the most expensive over of the game, he snared five wickets including a hat-trick.

From leaping to an imposing two-hundred plus total, they could eke out only two runs in the over (a wide and a single) and settled for 194, which Karnataka eclipsed with five overs to spare. But the result seemed only incidental in the sparkle of Mithun’s rare accomplishment and the limited-over renaissance he has been enjoying.

His first wicket was the blazing Himanshu Rana, who miscued a pull to deep mid-wicket. Though Mithun had lost a few yards of pace, he still has the ability to make the ball skid onto the batsmen and surprise him. The ball, thus, wasn’t as short as Rana was expecting. With the next ball, he took out the dangerous Rahul Tewatia.

The ball was in the good-length slot for Tewatia to blast it out of the park, but it was so wide that he had to reach for the ball, hence not getting the required power to clear the fence. The hat-trick ball was a back-of-the-hand slower ball he has perfected in the last couple of years, and though it was pitched short, it took am an eternity to reach Sumit Kumar.

Followed another slower delivery, a knuckleball that bounced and stopped at Amit Mishra, whose timid attempt of an uppercut ended up in Rohan Kadam’s hands. And then he erred for the first time in the series — as if to self-affirm that he wasn’t in the middle of a dream. A stranger wide, a yorker gone wrong and down the leg-side. He over-compensated with a fullish delivery outside the off-stump that Jitesh Saroha crunched to the cover-sweeper.

Normalcy, though, resumed the next ball. Another slower ball—back off the hand variety, this time—consumed Jayant Yadav to complete an incredible feat. With the final blow, he surpassed Lasith Malinga who had taken the most wickets in an over (four against New Zealand) in this format.

Mithun leapt and punched the air, though he seemed to be overwhelmed by a sense of disbelief. Understandably so, as he had taken only these many wickets in the last seven games, besides bleeding nearly ten runs an over. There had always been question marks over his white-ball utility—the last time he featured in an IPL match was back in 2013, and even in this Karnataka side, he’s not deemed an indispensable entity. If any, he has lost a few yards of pace.

But remarkably, he has added more variations like two types of slower-ball, slow bouncer and the cutters.

No longer does he look to blast batsmen out, no longer does he feed them with length balls, no longer does he bowl waywardly and thus has remained relevant amidst a bunch of young seamers, even as his trusted new-ball partner and friend R Vinay Kumar, who has swapped allegiances to Puducherry. His first-class mettle had seldom been in question—in the last three seasons alone, he has grabbed 118 wickets at an average of 21. But his white-ball utility often was (though he was the costliest pick in the last KPL auction)—but he has scripted a recalibration of late, bagging 20 wickets at 14.55 with a staggering economy rate of 3.93 in the Hazare.

His form poses a psychological hurdle for Tamil Nadu, the fellow-finalists, a rivalry he had always revelled in. The wounds he inflicted in the Hazare final last month will be still fresh in their memories.

Brief Scores: Haryana 194/8 (Himanshu Rana 61, Chaitanya Bishnoi 55; Abhimayu Mithun 5-39) lost to Karnataka 195/2 (Devdutt Padikkal 87, K L Rahul 66; Harshal Patel 1-28).

Clinical Tamil Nadu

In the second semi-final, Tamil Nadu bowlers dished out a clinical show to restrict Rajasthan to a meagre 112/9 after putting them to bat. For Rajasthan, barring two-down Rajesh Bishnoi (23), no batsman showed spine as the southern outfit grabbed wickets at regular intervals. In reply, Tamil Nadu then rode on a gritty unbeaten 54 by all- rounder Washington Sundar as they overhauled the target with 2.1 overs to spare.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan 112/9(Rajesh Bishnoi 23, Vijay Shankar 2-13) lost to Tamil Nadu 116/3 (Washington Sundar 54 not out; R Ashwin 31; Deepak Chahar 1-11) by seven wickets.

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