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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

IPL 2021: Ashwin’s last laugh; Rohit smiles cautiously; Gaikwad does a Dhoni

Emotional Rollercoaster: Ravichandran Ashwin compensated his poor bowling effort with a final six in DC's four-wicket win over MI. On the other hand, Ruturaj Gaikwad's maiden IPL ton went in vain in CSK's loss to RR.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: October 3, 2021 8:21:27 am
DC's Ravichandran Ashwin in action against MI. (IPL)

Ashwin vs Krunal: Two last overs, two sixes

These days think twice before rubbing Ravichandran Ashwin the wrong way, for this happens to be his “last laugh season”. After his ‘Come on, come on” revenge chant on getting Eoin Morgan in the bitterly fought game against KKR, Ashwin was ‘Come oning’ again. Krunal Pandya had hit Ashwin for six on the final ball of the Mumbai innings and as luck would have it, very soon the two faced each other again. It was another 20th over, another Krunal vs Ashwin face off. The roles had changed, the bat was now with the offie who’s never short of words or variations when on the field. Delhi needed four, but Ashwin needed six to settle the score with Krunal. The left-armer keeps it short, Ashwin kneels, swings the bat and before the ball crosses the fence the stump microphone catches those frenzied  ‘Come ons’. There was an extra edge to this duel between Indian cricket’s two white-ball faux all-rounders – bowlers who can kind-of bat. Ashwin’s inclusion and Krunal’s exclusion from the World T20 were both surprising. Few months back, Krunal was odds on favourite to play the ICC event while Ashwin wasn’t even sure of his place in the Test playing XI. On a sweaty Sharjah evening, Ashwin let his bat and his mouth do the talking. Bring on the T20 World Cup, Come on!

Rohit, smiling cautiously

Defending a 130-run target is always going to be difficult in IPL, and Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma might have felt his team was off to a good start when, after five balls, they conceded just a two. Then Prithvi Shaw decided to take a slight step to his right and punch Trend Boult for four through extra cover. Sharma already had a grimace on his face before the ball raced past the fielders inside the circle. A tough day was promising to get a lot harder.

Shikhar Dhawan’s powerful inside-out loft for six a few balls later only made things worse.

Then two quick wickets ‘turned the frown upside down.’ Dhawan was run-out with a Kieron Pollard direct-hit (the tall West Indian casually sipped his drink when the third-umpire declared ‘out’). And then Krunal Pandya found Shaw LBW.

Within the space of three overs, Sharma’s expressions had changed so rapidly. And while Mumbai Indians eventually tasted defeat, Rohit’s turnaround was an early start for the emotional roller-coaster.

Gaikwad does a Dhoni

On 86 after 17 overs, Ruturaj Gaikwad, would have never thought he would need a 6 on the final ball of 20th to reach a hundred. After hitting a six on the first ball of 18th over, he would have even started rehearsing his first IPL century speech. The rookie, standing at the non-striker end, would learn an important T20 lesson: Never second guess how events unfold in IPL. Gaikwad, in 90s, did his best to bottle in the emotional upheaval inside him. Jadeja was hogging the strike. Gaikwad was also being the perfect team man, after one six suggesting Jadeja to do the sword dance. No anxiety, no sulk, the find of the season was on Dhoni mode – someone with supreme confidence in his skills. On 95, he needed one ball to reach the most important milestone of his young career. The big-hearted Jadeja gave him double of that — two deliveries. Gaikwad missed one, hit the last one for six. CSK better retain this guy next season. The original last-over six-hitter wouldn’t be around for long.

Now that’s a no-ball

“No ball,” yelled Shivam Dube as soon as he made contact with the high full-toss from Shardul Thakur. The umpires didn’t echo Dube’s call and luckily for him, the ball fell in the no man’s land between the bowler and the incoming long-on fielder. In disbelief, a grumpy Dube gestured to the square-leg umpire, who wasn’t interested. The twangy ‘Nahi hai’ from MS Dhoni, caught by the stump mic, put the matter to rest. There was no disputing the ‘no ball’ next over, as Sam Curran’s attempted slower ball slipped out of his hand into the night sky. Debutant Kiwi Glenn Phillips, with a wide grin on his face, scampered after the ball towards backward square leg, before Dhoni collected it.

Collision course

This IPL keeps remembering former England bowler John Snow and the shoulder barge. This time around, it wasn’t clear who was the one shoving. Faf du Plessis rushed for a quick single to mid-off but the bowler Mustafizur Rahman stood too far behind the stumps to cover for the throw. It might still have been okay but Rahman started to backtrack a touch, perhaps anticipating that the throw might be fired real hard. In the process, though, he was right in the path of du Plessis who realised that he was going to ram into Rahman but couldn’t stop himself in time. Just after they collapsed to the ground in pain, du Plessis threw a look at Rehman, which suggested ‘what were you doing there, mate?’. Almost immediately, Rahman raised his left hand as sort of an apology. Civilities done, both reached for the ground to resume their tryst with pain.

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