PBKS-KKR emotional rollercoaster: Russell finishes in style, Rahane’s false dawn

“If you hit a four, you are two runs short,” Andre Russell once said and he couldn’t stop baring his television-ad-worthy teeth in the end after blasting 8 sixes. Though the target wasn’t huge, KKR had lost wickets in a clutch but Russell made light work of it. His Jamaican team-mate Odeon Smith helped him get going with some utter tripe – three sixes and a four flew in an over and Russell also had the momentum to belt Punjab’s best bowler Rahul Chahar for consecutive sixes to wrap up the game. Another piece of Russell wisdom is the reason he stays still or even behind the crease. “Why go towards the ball? The ball is coming to you?!” He just clears the front foot and smashes the white round thing.

Narine plots end of Raj

After a phase of nerves, Raj Bawa, the gifted stroke-maker finally hammered his first boundary of the night, a meaty drive off Sunil Narine, who faltered on the fuller side. The ball was flat, it was Narine’s quicker one that was fractionally over-pitched, but with powerful wrists, he bludgeoned the ball towards the fence. Narine was not amused. The follow-up was not a short ball, as many bowlers are prone to. The ball came at around the same speed (90kph or thereabouts), but it swerved inwardly, and after pitching turned away a shade past his feeble defensive prod to clatter his stumps. These days, Narine revels in subtlety rather than magic or mystery. The drift was gentle, taking Bawa’s eyes to the leg-side and coaxing him to play inside the line of the ball, the length was on the fuller side of the good-length band, driveable yet not driveable, and the turn was just enough to beat him and hit the stumps – a bit more turn and the ball would have left the stumps unharmed.

Southee’s Wobble’dycook

Yet again, Tim Southee has done in a batsman with the three-quarter seam ball. It was Shikhar Dhawan this time, shaping to drive, but finding the ball wobbling away from him, taking a bit of edge along with it. Southee had developed it after a failure to produce the conventional in-swinger and the fear of losing his stock outswinger. He picked the brains of his team-mate Kyle Mills who had developed the three-quarter seam ball. Southee explained it once on the ICC website. “I move the finger on the ball and put the weight on on-side of the ball. With the less upright position, hope it comes out wobbly.” It’s not the cross-seam ball but the fingers are almost on on-side of the leather and with the wrist firm (doesn’t break away), he rolls his fingers on the side of the ball. And like Dhawan, and numerous others have found out before, the ball tends to tilt away.

Umesh’s stunning run

What a run Umesh Yadav is having in this IPL. In the first game, he served up a series of classic outswingers. In the second game against RCB, he hit the hard length, getting the ball to kick up to harass the batsmen, including the wicket of Virat Kohli. In this game, he took out Mayank Agarwal with a full delivery in the first over, took out Liam Livingstone with a length delivery in the 8th over, and returned with a double strike in the 15th over. A full one to clean up Harpreet Brar and a bouncer to take out Rahul Chahar. Full marks to the captain Shreyas Iyer too for bringing him at right situations and giving him the field too. He moved in a slip just before the ball to Chahar who parried the bouncer to the man there.

Knight of false dawns

Ajinkya Rahane’s recent travails have been typical. He would unfurl a few gorgeous strokes, so convincing that the beholder is left convinced that he has rediscovered his touch (the touch has not actually deserted him but the runs have). Then he would play a loose stroke that would leave you fuming at him. Against Punjab Kings, he looked in gorgeous nick, lacing three boundaries in the first 10 balls he faced. The last of the three was pure timing, when he just pushed a Kagiso Rabada through cover. He then judiciously left a couple of away-nibbling ones, late-cut one straight to back wide gully. Relaxed and composed, he seemed in no hurry in a supposedly easy chase of 138. Then, out of nothing, he drove feebly at a ball pitched on seventh stumps, from the crease and just throwing his hands at it. He duly edged and Odean Smith swallowed it. The Kolkata Knight Rider seems to be the knight of the false dawns, these days.

Iyer, leg-spinner’s bunny

Yet again, Shreyas Iyer has fallen to a legspinner in the IPL. This was his sixth time with Rahul Chahar taking him thrice. The first time Chahar did him in was in 2019 when Iyer went for a reverse sweep and was bowled. One year later, he was beaten in flight and left stranded down the track. This time around, after three dot balls, he went for the slog sweep, only to top edge an easy catch. The other day Sunil Gavaskar had talked about Iyer’s poor record against legspinners and mentioned how the opposition are always going to target him with leggies.

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