As the ball ballooned towards the fielder at cover-point, from the leading edge of his blade, David Warner paused, looked suspiciously at the pitch, cussed and cursed himself, lingered at the crease and rehearsed the back-foot defence. Rather than looking to defend an Andre Nortje lifter, a heavy ball off hard length that bounced sharply and seamed a fraction away from him, Warner tried to work it onto the leg-side for a get-out-of-strike single. For, he had looked disturbingly shaky—as he has been the entire year across formats. The first was a fast, full ball outside the off-stump, which in peak form, he would have fleeced through cover. But his heavy bat just stabbed the muggy air. He grimaced. The second ball, on good length, was somehow blunted to safety, tentatively, the lethargic feet and heavy hands betraying his rustiness. He heaved a sigh of relief. Not for long, and he could only be content that his agony was not prolonged. A Goliath of T20 batting, he now needs to channel his inner David.
Hulk’s body goes into a sulk again
‘Is Stonis injured?’ is a frequently asked question on google. The poor man went down again in IPL. He ambled in to bowl and just as he gathered himself at the crease, he went limp. “Calf problem” sighed the commentators. The man with a swaying walk and the wide drop-jaw smile has had his fair share of injuries to most constituents of his anatomy: side strains, calf issues, shoulder problems, ankle injury … you name it, he has had it. In that sense, he unfortunately mirrors the super hero he gets his nickname from: The Hulk. Marvel Comics’s Hulk has been devoured by mutant roaches, punched into space, transformed into stone, and had his skin telekinetically flayed off. Frequently, listicles are written about the various injuries of the superhero. Stoinis got the moniker because it was felt that he celebrates his wickets in the vein-bursting fashion of the angry superhero. Pity, that the injuries too have tailed him, just like the comic avatar.
Charmed life of Cricket’s Mr Charming
Has Kane Williamson ever been involved in as bizarre a knock as the one on Wednesday night? Particularly the phase of five balls in the end where he gave three chances. First reprieve came off R Ashwin’s carrom ball delivered from wide of the crease. Williamson lunged at it to have a poke but Rishabh Pant was more intent in trying to stump – though Williamson’s back foot was planted inside the crease – and clanged the regulation catch. Pant winced even as Ashwin shrieked in agony. Few balls later, Williamson drove Axar Patel straight to cover where Prithvi Shaw dropped a sitter. It was Shaw’s turn to wince. Next ball, he would be patting the back of Patel in relief as Williamson holed out. Even the end was bizarre. He stepped down the track and never quite reached the pitch of the ball but nevertheless went through with it. The bottom hand came off the bat as he went for a one-handed scoop to long-off to end his own misery. Quite un-Williamson like knock, if ever there was one.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was an unusually grumpy man. He usually flashes a warm, benign smile, a half-smile at least, but here he was disturbed and agitated. Something troubled him. Perhaps it was the run-up, which he re-measured a couple of times. Perhaps, it was not the ball coming out of his hands as smoothly as he wants to, or as he often does. Perhaps, it was the elusive rhythm. The swing metronome hardly found any lateral movement in his first over. His lines were awry, he strayed leg-side to Shikhar Dhawan and found the ball being picked from the square-leg fence. He then could not latch onto a floaty, mistimed chip off Dhawan that eluded his stretched left palm by a couple of inches. Compounding his frustration, a lovely leg-cutter eluded Shreyas Iyer’s outside edge. Two balls later, he found the edge of Iyer’s bat, but the inside edge ricocheted onto his body and trickled to the keeper. By now, his grumpiness had developed shades of anger.
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