Pooran swings wildly in vain; Angry Kane and Hetmeyer changes colour of his tresses as often as Nymphadora Tonks

What do you do when a wonderful left-arm swing bowler like Trent Boult repeatedly curves the ball away from you outside off stump as a left-handed batsman? Off drive, perhaps even skip down the track to cut down swing, but Nicolas Pooran chose the good old slog across the line. To no one’s surprise, Pooran didn’t connect even once. Three successive out swingers had him swing and miss. First time he did it, Boult cast a look at midwicket – the area where Pooran was trying for the mini-miracle – and had a quizzical look at the batsman as if he was saying, “really?!’ Two more retakes followed in live time. Perhaps by then convinced that Pooran isn’t going to connect with any of his slogs, Boult got his fourth curve ball to start from the middle stump line. Swing and a miss but the ball crashed into the pad plumb in front. And to think that Pooran was promoted ahead of the regular Test opener Aiden Markram who would have been more at home against swing.

Kane gives daggers; Buttler blossoms

When Washington Sundar overstepped off his first ball of the innings, Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson threw the stink eye at the all-rounder. The erring bowler promptly apologised. It was just the fourth over, but Williamson had enough with his no-ball-prone bowlers. In the first over, Bhuvneshwar Kumar had snared Jos Buttler, who had cracked a hundred in his previous outing against them, after setting him up beautifully, only for the no-ball siren to bellow. Bhuvneshwar erred again next over, before Umran Malik induced another outside edge off Buttler that burst through the hands of Abdul Samad. The latter was distraught, Williamson hit the ground in angst, and his fury only raged further when the siren tooted again. Thus, all the controlled swing bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the aggression of Malik were laid to waste. Buttler, reprieved on nought, began to hit sixes for fun. And each shot might have been a stab through Williamson’s heart, and each shot seemed to take a slice of his fabled composure. He has seldom looked so angrier so early in a game.

Hair (colour) today, gone tomorrow

The colour of Shimron Hetmyer’s hair seems to be where his heart is. Last year, when he represented Delhi Capitals, he had bleached his hair blue. He re-dyed it to maroon when he turned out for the West Indies. And now, when he moved to Rajasthan Royals, he has coloured his hair pink, in sync with Royals’ pink jerseys, which he flaunted every time the camera panned into the Royals’ dugout . While he has proved to be the spiritual tresses successor of the Australian spinner Colin Miller, his inspiration is his wife. “My wife is the colour genius behind the whole thing. Last year, when I was in Delhi, she was there as well and she was like why don’t you colour your hair blue just to see what it looks like? And I was like okay sure no problem,” he told Rajasthan Royals’ Twitter handle. This year, invariably, it had to be pink. “And after that she was like ‘okay this year you’re in pink so let’s do pink’. So, I guess I am here in pink.” If he keeps this habit—a colour for every team—he could easily end up outstripping Miller as the king of bleach in cricket.

Jos do it: Buttler liberated by IPL’s whirlwind

His fireworks in the first IPL match of the season may suggest that Jos Buttler was wasting his time trying to be someone he was not – a Test cricketer in an England shirt. Over the last Australian summer, the wicketkeeper-batsman tried different methods in search of Ashes success, but to no avail. It got to a point when he would have been secretly relieved to be dropped.

But back with the Rajasthan Royals, Buttler could again focus on the one thing he is arguably the best in the world in the shortest format – how to send the white ball to and over the ropes on a frequent basis. It helps when he doesn’t have to put as high a price tag on his wicket as he is expected to in the five-day game. Whatever nerves he had would have, had been settled after surviving a torrid first over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, especially a dismissal of a no-ball. But as soon as he found the middle of his bat and the boundary on the onside in the second over, the Englishman was in the groove. The slashes and ramps were back as pace and spin were treated with equal disdain.

He threatened to take the game away from Sunrisers Hyderabad but it was ironic, or maybe fitting, that when Buttler got out, it was a standard Test match-like dismissal. A pacy delivery in the channel nicked behind. If ever there was a moment that captured his career.

Expensive but exciting is Umran Malik

We saw the good and the not so good of fast bowler Umran Malik. Malik has a relatively smooth action, is lightning fast but has a tendency to be erratic. A little like when Varun Aaron first came on the scene. The 22-year-old from J&K, is one of the most exciting talents and keeps everyone on the edge of their seat because a wayward delivery can be followed up by a 150kmph-beauty. But the experienced Jos Buttler used the youngster’s raw pace to find the boundary a few times. Buttler slashed and ramped for a 4 and a 6. Malik came back with a fast, short ball which Buttler edged. The catch was put down and Malik had overstepped anyway. The last ball of Malik’s first over was also hit over backward point for a six by Buttler. He conceded 17 runs. Yet he recovered from the thrashing and found some good lengths. The ball which Buttler edged was clocked at nearly 150 kmph. Devdutt Padikkal got the better of Malik during their early exchanges. But Malik was too quick for Padikkal who failed to get his bat down in time as the ball moved in from a full lenght and crashed into the stumps. Two quality wickets, some leaked runs and plenty of pace made for great viewing. Expensive but exciting and worth every penny spent.

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